Message of love, hope and empowerment heads to northern Manitoba youth
'They need to know that other people care and are waiting for them to succeed'
First Nations communities in remote and isolated parts of northern Manitoba, some of which have faced youth suicide crises, are about to get a message of hope and resilience.
Youth Empowerment Ice Road Tour is hitting the road in January, travelling to 16 schools in 13 communities to deliver a motivational message through music, videos and guest speakers.
"It's such a critical thing to ensure the well-being and the growth and the success of our youth," said Ryan Wood, a spokesman for Live Different, which is leading the tour in partnership with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents most of northern Manitoba's First Nations.
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The goal is to create a sense of hope and purpose by helping youth improve all aspects of their lives, from their emotional and mental health to their social interactions and academics, Wood said.
"We want them to understand the value of their lives and the power of their choices," he said.
Live Different, a non-profit charity that started in 2000, delivers its message to about 100,000 youth in 300 schools every year. This year, they are focusing one of their tours on Indigenous communities from Ontario to British Columbia.
The program will "provide a lot of inspiration [to youth] to think in a positive way … and reach for hope," said MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson.
"They need a lot of attention and reminders that they are special and that they have a lot to offer and there's so much going for them. And they need to know that other people care and are waiting for them to succeed."
The tour was announced during a Live Different presentation at Southeast Collegiate in Winnipeg's Fairfield Park neighbourhood on Tuesday.
The message North Wilson said she hopes the youth hear is "that we love you and that we know there is greatness inside you."