Sunday March 20, 2016

Despair and resilience of Indigenous youth in the face of a suicide crisis

An estimated 1,000 people from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake First Nation) attended a suicide prevention walk in early March.

An estimated 1,000 people from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake First Nation) attended a suicide prevention walk in early March. (Facebook)

Listen to Full Episode 42:12

If you have ever lost a loved one to illness or an accident, you know the pain of grief and loss.

But when that person takes their own life, the pain is especially deep and the ripples travel far and wide.

It is a tragedy rippling through many Indigenous communities including Pimicikamak, MB., Maskwacis, AB., the Mushkegowuk of James Bay in northern Ontario, and the Inuit of Nunavut. 

High rates of suicide seems to be the norm for many Indigenous communities. Leaders are calling it a pandemic — a state of emergency and a crisis.

Lisa Muswagon and Karmen Omeasoo

Lisa Muswagon and Karmen Omeasoo. (Doug Thomas)

But for that person who sits on the edge of life and death the call is simple: help me.

Pimicikamak is one of those communities with voices calling for help. Teens from the community share their messages and stories.

Motivational speaker Lisa Muswagon and her husband hip-hop artist HellnbacK aka Karmen Omeasoo travelled to the northern community on their own dime. But they weren`t going there to deliver a message. They simply wanted to listen to the youth of Muswagon's home community.

Leonard Sumner - Unreserved

Leonard Sumner. (Nadya Kwandibens)

Musician Leonard Sumner blends hip-hop with country music. Sumner also has his own story of longing to belong after he was displaced from his home community of Little Saskatchewan First Nation in Manitoba.

Tiar Wilson shares the story of sport with a youth basketball program in Winnipeg. 

And messages of hope to the youth in Pimicikamak from Supaman, Crystle Lightning and Young Medicine.

Sister Says

Sister Says is made up of Haida-Tsimshian siblings Gillian and Robert Thomson. (Leigh Righton)

This week's playlist:

Leonard Sumner - Resistance

N'We Jinan Project  - Echo My Soul

Hellnback with Lightning Cloud - BTBB

Sister Says - Homesick

stories from this episode