A youth group on the Millbrook First Nation in Truro, N.S., is sending a message of hope to Indigenous youth who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Its video for We Matter — a national, multimedia anti-suicide campaign — reminds youth that they're strong and to reach out for help if they need it.
"I just wanted to try and uplift any person feeling bad about themselves," said Celeste Sylliboy, 14, who appears in the video made by the Millbrook First Nation Youth Centre.
The Grade 9 student at Truro Junior High School said she's lost one friend to suicide.
"It really took a toll on me," said Sylliboy, who struggled with feelings that she didn't do enough to help them.
"Deep down, it means a lot to me to be part of this campaign, so other people going through a tough time get the help they need."
'Stigma of asking for help'
Co-founder Kelvin Redvers, a filmmaker who grew up as part of the Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories, said the project was created to reduce the prevalence of suicide among Indigenous youth.
"We created this because it's something we wish we had as teenagers," he said.
Since starting the site with his sister Tunchai in mid-October, about 90 videos have been uploaded, including ones by electronic music group A Tribe Called Red and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"In nearly all Indigenous communities, there is still a stigma of asking for help," said Redvers.
"There's still a lot of effects of colonization and the residue of residential schools. A lot of kids are living in really hard circumstances; they might have parents who are drinking, doing drugs. They might be living with trauma day to day."
He said there's a lot of strength in Indigenous culture and its elders.
"We wanted to connect the two, the positive stories out there to the kids who are feeling hurt," said Redvers.
He said he wanted to create a place for Indigenous youth to "find positive role models and positive messages for when they're feeling dark."
He hopes to post a video from each Indigenous community in the country, particularly in remote areas.
He said videos from community members, such as fishermen and teachers, are as impactful as high-profile people.
"We need to see people who we recognize adding their voices and de-stigmatizing talking about pain and healing," said Redvers.