SAULT STE. MARIE -- Ontario's health minister, Christine Elliot, announced an additional $1.2 million in provincial funding to help Indigenous organizations in Sault Ste. Marie with mental health and addiction services.

The money will be shared between Batchewana and Sioux Lookout First Nations, as well as the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.

Provincial officials say the new money will help nearly 1,100 people.

It is part of a $170 million promise the Ontario government made back in 2019 to improve mental health and addiction services.

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, made the announcement in Sault Ste. Marie Friday. 

"Our government wants to work with Indigenous partners across the province to design and deliver and evaluate programs and services that support Indigenous people. To ensure they are affectively meeting the unique needs of your family and communities," said Elliot.

Batchewana First Nation will receive $260,000 annually. 

Dean Sayers, Batchewana First Nation's Chief, says the money will be used on wellness promoters and that there is an addiction problem in Batchewana, so the money is desperately needed.

"One of our neighbouring communities just buried somebody last week again and we buried someone the week before. I think I’ve been to maybe three funerals in the last couple of months that were opioid related. When you think about the size of our community, that’s unheard of, it shouldn’t be that way," said Sayers.