The City of Toronto is covering funeral costs for local Instagram star Debby
The tragic death of a young Toronto woman who, despite being known by millions of people, was homeless and struggling when she passed away this week, has touched a nerve in the city.
Alexis Matos, known online by the simple mononymous moniker Debby, is thought to have suffered a fatal overdose while living in a shelter earlier this week.
The rapper and Instagram personality's former manager confirmed to blogTO on Tuesday that Matos had overdosed on fentanyl. At the same time, a GoFundMe page set up by apparent friends of the teenager stated that there weren't any "arrangements for a service."
Debby, whom blogTO confirmed in February of 2020 to be 16 years old (her birthday appears to have been in March, meaning she was 18 when she died), was open about having been in the foster care system and was known to speak about her rough life circumstances in videos.
She was, in fact, a fixture on Toronto's viral video scene, to the point where she was both recognized and ridiculed in public by jerkholes seeking clout.
yo this shit pains me to watch..fam she was only 18 and people treated her like a circus. she was a nice girl, she struggles like we all do. everytime i tried to ask yo debby everything alright? she said yea but i knew through all them vids that was never the case.— Wondeezy (@wonderyxy) November 2, 2021
The local social media outlet 6ixbuzzTV is widely credited with Debby's rise to notoriety and is taking heat now in the wake of her death, along with other Instagram accounts that critics say mocked the young woman, allowing her to be assaulted and exploited for followers.
No sooner than 6ixBuzz confirmed the news of Debby's untimely death on their platform did a GoFundMe page spring up seeking donations for the young Torontonian's funeral.
"Toronto received some very sad news on November 2, 2021. Our beloved icon Debby, also known as Alexis Matos, passed away in a shelter from a drug overdose and unfortunately, she doesn't have any arrangements for a service," reads the still-active campaign's description, written by an organizer named Chantal Bos.
"So me and Debby's cousin, Heather, will be organizing this fundraiser to make sure Debby has a proper send-off with the respect and peace that she deserves."
Late Tuesday night, however, organizers posted a message telling people to stop donating.
"Hi everyone. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience but we have been told to remove this fundraiser for Debby's funeral. We just recently found out that this 'mentor' who claims the city will be paying for her funeral, will allegedly have it held for social workers only and will not allow ANY visitors or close friends of Alexis to attend, not even Heather, her cousin," reads the update.
"We want to give Debby the proper send off as we did in the beginning when we initially made this fundraiser in the first place and I believe that EVERYONE deserves a chance to pay their respects and say goodbye... Sorry for this confusing situation. We would really appreciate your patience while we try to figure this out for her."
Despite this, the fundraiser remains active and had racked up more than twice its goal of $5,000 followers by Wednesday afternoon.
Um... When and where did they say that?— krys. (@queermess) November 3, 2021
Some viewers have expressed skepticism over the idea of the municipal government paying for the teen's final preparations, but the City of Toronto confirmed to blogTO today that this is indeed how the system works.
"Employment and Social Services provides financial assistance on behalf of deceased Toronto residents who do not have sufficient funds in their estate to fully cover the cost of a basic funeral, burial and/or cremation," said city media relations spokesperson Anthony Toderian on Wednesday to blogTO.
"The deceased person does not have to have been in receipt of Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits at the time of death to be eligible."
Asked about Debby specifically, the city could not confirm anything.
"Due to privacy issues the City of Toronto is not able to confirm details about individual cases, but we can confirm that the City does provide basic funeral costs in specific situations," said Toderian.
"The death of a client that our shelter and outreach staff may have cared for and gotten to know deeply impacts us. Our thoughts are with all those who loved and cared for this individual."
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