In her comments at last week's announcement about the return of the Bear Clan, Chief Lorraine Cobiness honoured the memory of Delaine Copenace. The chair for the Kenora Chiefs Advisory said the loss of the teen four years ago led to the Bear Clan creating a chapter in Kenora four years ago.

"It was based on her spirit and the loss of her physical life that really triggered having the Bear Clan come into Kenora, and in her spirit is where we're going to celebrate. She's out there being part of the solution," she said, after Friday's announcement.

"The help, the resources that are coming with it are more far-reaching. Bigger than anybody ever thought," she said.

Cobiness said the collaborative nature of the partnerships involved was key to the announcement. People from all walks of life came together in the search for Delaine back in 2016.

The search for Delaine Copenace united the Kenora area four years ago. Hundreds from all ages and all walks of life came out and joined the search for the 16-year-old. She went missing in February, and she was found deceased in late March.

Bear Clan members also took part in the search for 14-year-old Azraya Kokopenace, who was found deceased a month later in April of 2016.

Earlier this month Queen's Park announced another $150 million to help those during COVID-19, including help for homeless shelters, housing and foodbanks. In April, the province announced a COVID-19 action plan, including First Nations.

Last December, the province added $675,000 for a mobile medical response to the streets of Kenora.

Last fall, the All Nations Health Partners came together, in an effort to provide local decisions about how resources would best be allocated to meet local needs. The partnership is led by the Kenora Chiefs Advisory and the Kenora District Services Board. 

Along with their work on building a new district hospital, the partners are also looking at community outreach programs, which would assist mental health and addictions. A location for the new hospital is expected to be announced before the end of August, and a criteria for the location is the ability to house what could become a campus for social agencies addressing local issues.

Along with the downtown shelter and youth hub that opened last year, a remand centre is expected to open this fall, with treatment beds and housing units to follow. Land has already been cleared at the Evergreen Rink for the treatment beds, and a location for seniors housing is also expected in the near future. The district services board is hoping to add more than 100 housing units, along with the justice centre.

The city has removed some of its approval steps related to zoning and land use, in an effort to facilitate the construction of new housing. Once built, they would be the first social housing units built in more than a generation, adding another piece to the puzzle for the Streets to Homes -- or Housing First -- strategy the city has been pursuing since the loss of the Adams Block.

For more information:

Bear Clan now on patrol 24/7

Human rights commission calls on leaders to assist vulnerable

Supportive housing in province's new mental health plan

Retired child welfare worker identifies homeless youth

Service hub manager invites at-risk youth

'These are terrible tragedies,' coroner

Gap closed after Hezekiah, ministry

Child protection system failed Azraya, report

Vigil for Azraya in Kenora

Search for Delaine Copenace comes to a tragic end