Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Where's the outrage?
At least three children have been flown to Winnipeg in recent days from the remote northern reserve of Shamattawa for treatment of injuries/conditions that should have us all hanging our heads in shame.First up was a nine-year-old girl last weekend, who had apparently attempted suicide and was in need of immediate medical care. I repeat - a nine-year-old girl tried to end her life.Next was a patient described by paramedics as a "chronic sniffer" suffering the devastating physical and mental consequences of ingensting solvents into their system. He is 13-years-old.Finally, earlier today another little girl was rushed to the Children's Hospital to be treated for an overdose. Not sure of her exact age, but I'm told she was very young.According to federal stats, Shamattawa is home to about 1,100 people - roughly the population of a typical Winnipeg high school. Of course, we can assume there are more children in a school then on the reserve, as that 1,100 includes residents of all ages.Now put this in perspective.What do you think the reaction would be - from politicians, police, the media, the public - if three Winnipeg students in one school had to be rushed to hospital as a result of drug overdoses/solvent abusee/suicide attempts in the span of just a few days.Can you say "mass hysteria"?? There'd be shock, outrage, anger, confusion, internal reviews, studies, funding announcements, press conferences, etc.Now compare that with what is happening way up north.Clearly Shamattawa is a community in crisis. And yet despite the fact this is in our "own backyard", we are hearing nothing but silence while broken child after broken child gets parachuted out of the community for medical intervention.Here's some questions that are haunting me right now.-How many kids are not even making it out of Shamattawa for care? (as in, they couldn't be saved).-What happens to those who do get treatment? Are they simply being sent back into the same ugly situation?-How many other children are currently deemed to be "at-risk" in the community?-What other resrouces in Shamattawa are needed right now to deal with what's going on?-What long-term plans are in place to deal with the chronic issues plaguing the community?-Are Aboriginal leaders in this province doing anything about this?-Are most provincial politicians even aware of what's going on?-Is this a tragic example of "out of sight, out of mind"?-How many other isolated communities are facing similar situations right now?The only reason I even know about these three most recent incidents is because of information through a source. And the sad reality is these cases are just a "snapshot" of a much bigger picture, one that is both ugly and sad.There are no quick and easy solutions here - although I would suggest that any child found to be in imminent danger should be placed in a stable, safe environment as quickly as possible.As for the long-term, I don't know what can be done. I wish I did. But we're talking about horrific cycles of poverty, neglect, abuse and isolation that can't simply be broken.I just know that it's wrong to ignore what's going on. And that talking about the problem is better then pretending it doesn't exist.www.mikeoncrime.comGOT A COMMENT? POST IT BELOW.