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School District 57 committed to mental health literacy after death of two students: superintendent

Marilyn Marquis-Forster provided an update on community mobilization efforts
School District 57 offices. (via Hanna Petersen)

School District 57 has addressed the work underway in response to the sudden deaths of two students this fall.

At the Dec. 5 public board meeting, Superintendent Marilyn Marquis-Forster provided an update regarding the district’s community mobilization efforts, focusing on the loss of the two College Heights Secondary School students.

“This autumn, one of our school communities suffered the loss of two children to death and this is a sobering experience for any person; as a school community, it is really a time to stop and think,” said Marquis-Forster.

“Of course, losing youth is not unique to Prince George. It’s happening across Canada and across North America but it was unique to us because it was here and it became our issue in Prince George.”

Marquis-Forster commended the community liaison work of assistant superintendents Nevio Rossie and Cindy Heitman as well as the rest of the staff for their work this fall in response to the tragedies.

“We held supports for the community, including our student supports critical response team; we have reached out to Northern Health, Child and Family Development, and it goes on and on and on, including non-government supported philanthropic organizations and community members who just want to help,” said Marquis-Forster, adding the district also brought additional therapy dogs to the community.

“We wish to work proactively and preventively toward community health promotion and care and being responsive when children, youth and families, are in need. That has been a huge piece of work this fall.”

She noted the district is working with Safer Schools Together, and with further consultants and presenters regarding mental health literacy and how it ties into the current curriculum. 

“We are committed to not just training some of our staff, but training all of our staff over the next few years in mental health literacy,” said Marquis-Forster at the Tuesday night meeting.

“Our community has had an enthusiastic and supportive response to our taking leadership in this area and we will keep you posted as we move through.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can text CONNECT to 686868 (the Kids Help Line) or call 1-800-668-6868. You can also reach the Prince George chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association at 250-564-8644. If you are thinking about ending your life or are concerned about someone who is, you can call 1-800-784-2433.


Hanna Petersen

About the Author: Hanna Petersen

Born and raised in Prince George, Hanna Petersen is a graduate of UNBC. She then abandoned her hometown for the East Coast, graduating with a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in the process.
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