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TORONTO – A First Nation in northern Ontario has opened a new shelter designed to help its residents recover from abusive and dangerous situations.

Pikangikum First Nation, a remote community located approximately 230 kilometers north of Kenora, Ontario, recently opened the Pikangikum Community Safe House, a multi-unit facility designed to help people in the community who have nowhere. where to go.

“We are very happy to have a place like this in our community to help our members,” Jonah Strang, Deputy Chief of the Pikangikum First Nation, told CTVNews.ca.

“It should help families who usually have problems at home.”

Pikangikum First Nation was once known to have one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

In 2000, British sociologist Colin Samson said the community suicide rate had “skyrocketed” after reaching an eight-year average of 213 suicides per 100,000 people. At the time, Samson proclaimed that the Pikangikum First Nation probably had the highest suicide rate in the world.

Alcohol abuse remains a serious problem in the community of around 4,000 residents and the lack of housing has led to fewer safe spaces for people seeking to escape a potentially dangerous situation.

“We have multigenerational families living in one house,” said Vernon Kejick, a victim services advocate for Pikangikum First Nation.

Kejick is widely regarded as a key player in carrying out the project and ensuring its completion.

“I felt it was my purpose to bring a facility like this to this community,” he said.

The new secure home can accommodate up to eight families and also contains a seven-suite hotel, which will help provide mental health workers with a place to stay.

“It’s so accommodating,” said Jojo Alfonso, a community teacher. “It’s perfect. That’s what this community needs.”

The construction of the secure house was not an easy task and took several years. The multi-million dollar project relied on ice roads to transport equipment and materials into the community.

“It was a mad rush before the winter road came out to try to get the facility in,” Kejick said.

MCM Architects Inc., designers of the safe house, said the facility “will provide safe and secure shelter, emotional relief and culturally appropriate services for people in the community seeking to escape violence or abuse.”

“The Safe House is committed to helping victims of abuse; women and their children in the difficult transition from an abusive and violent domestic environment to a positive, independent and non-violent way of life, ”the company said. “The facility would primarily provide a safe and temporary refuge with access to support services for women, children, seniors (and) LGBTQ people who are victims of the many facets of family violence.

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