Support services encourage people to reach out following recent firearm related incident
We hope anyone reading knows that they are not alone
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
Support service organizations in Sioux Lookout are encouraging people to reach out following a firearm related incident which took place in Sioux Lookout on Oct. 29, which resulted in the evacuation of some residents and two nearby schools going into a Secure School state.
FIREFLY’s Clinical Managers shared, “Whether impacted directly or indirectly by a crisis, it can result in a range of cognitive, affective and behavioral changes in children, youth and adults alike. When unexpected events happen in a school or community, individuals may notice changes in how they or someone they care about thinks, feels and acts. These are common reactions but they can feel overwhelming and start to interfere with everyday activities like going to school or work, hanging out with friends, as well as a person’s perceived sense of safety.”
Clinical Managers at FIREFLY shared that people impacted by a crisis may experience difficulties sleeping or may tend to avoid certain places or activities that remind them of the event. “By acknowledging these reactions are common and talking about these issues, it can help reassure individuals that they are okay, that they can ask for and receive support, while also reinforcing the message that talking about our thoughts, feelings, and actions is okay and helps build resiliency skills and positive coping habits,” they added.
Program Manager of the Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHAP) at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC), Michelle Turner shared, “Mental health is an important component of a person's overall health and well-being. One in five Canadians will experience a mental health illness each year and it is important to know that there are compassionate and non-judgmental services available to help.” Turner added, “We recognize it takes courage and determination to seek help. Everyone needs help at some point in their life, and we encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out.” Turner mentioned that the region’s mental health services have seen an increased demand. Turner further shared that this is likely due to several factors including increased social isolation and depression resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, as well as positive changes in de-stigmatizing how mental health care is perceived and delivered.”
FIREFLY’s Clinical Managers suggested that a person struggling with feelings of worry and anxiety could benefit from opening-up and talking about their feelings to someone. They added, “Talking to caregivers, a trusted friend or adult, a teacher or coach and/or a counselor can provide reassurance and provide support in coping with these feelings. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are many places you can turn to for support.”
They further explained that adverse events might leave children and youth with several questions. They added that it is vital to keep the lines of communication open and support your child or teen to ask questions, allowing them to express their emotions. They shared that the organization hasn’t noticed an increase in need for their services in relation to the firearm related incident. They added, “While you might benefit from support immediately following an adverse event, also consider reaching to a mental health provider if emotional and behavioral issues do not resolve over time.”
FIREFLY’s Clinical Managers shared that as a caring adult, children and youth will be watching your reaction to determine how they should react to difficult events. When adults are able to model effective ways of coping and practice positive self-care (such as talking about your thoughts and feelings, exercising, resting, eating well and connecting with friends and family members) this helps children and youth understand and cope with difficult events.”
After being notified of the firearm related situation by a concerned citizen, the residents of Birchwood Crescent, along with the residents of Atwood Street between First Avenue North and Third Avenue were evacuated. As a precautionary advice by the Sioux Lookout OPP, nearby Sioux North High School and Sioux Mountain Public School also went into a Secure School state. Turner shared, “The fire-arms related evacuation and school lock down in Sioux Lookout was definitely concerning.” Turner added that it is a relief to know that no one was physically injured during the incident last week. “We hope anyone reading knows that they are not alone. Speak to your family, your friends, and those close to you who you trust. Or reach out to confidential and professional services, like our MHAP or other community programs like Firefly, Nodin Mental Health Services, the Nishnawbe Aski Mental Health and Addications Support Access Program (NAN HOPE) or the Older Adults Program. There are also excellent websites like the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) which anyone can access.”
For further information on the services provided by MHAP or to book an appointment with a counselor, call (807) 737-1275. For a person in need of additional mental health support, crisis counseling, or is under the age of 16 can get in touch with 24/7 supports available through services like Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or NAN HOPE at 1-844-626-4673. Children and youth can contact FIREFLY to book an appointment, by calling their Central Intake line at
(1-833-696-5437). Ah-shawah-bin Support Services is another local organization offering crisis intervention and support to victims of crime and tragic circumstances. They can be reached at (807) 737-1700.