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Cree youth turn to social media to promote COVID-19 safety awareness

The Cree Nation Youth Council launched a series of daily #StayAtHome challenges in late March that include goose calling, hand washing, fiddle dancing among others.

From goose calling to handwashing, the #StayAtHome challenge catches on

Carrie-Lynn MacLeod, left, and Kayleigh Spencer are both from Mistissini, Que., and are roommates while attending CEGEP (college) in Montreal. They say taking part in the #StayAtHome challenges have kept them connected to home and entertained while self-isolating. (submitted by Kayleigh Spencer)

Cree youth in northern Quebec are using a series of social media challenges to encourage young people to listen to their leaders, stay at home and follow COVID-19 safety measures. 

The Cree Nation Youth Council (CNYC) launched a series of daily #StayAtHome challenges in late March that include goose calling, hand washing, fiddle dancing and others to both entertain young people stuck at home and share public safety information.

"To me it's really more eye-catching and it's attracting people, so I really think it's getting the message out," said Kaitlynn Hester Moses, youth grand chief for the CNYC. Youth have been asked to create videos and memes on a variety of things and share them on social media.  

"We try to encourage the youth to follow their community's safety measures."

Kayleigh Spencer and Carrie-Lynn MacLeod are two students from Mistissini who are roommates in Montreal while they attend their respective CEGEPs, or post-secondary schools. They created a video together. 

It really made us feel connected to our community​- Kayleigh Spencer, Mistissini student in Montreal

"We went from such a busy day-to-day routine to being quarantined when the schools closed," said Spencer. She also said that putting together the videos has also helped them feel more connected to their friends and families in Mistissini. 

"We missed home and saw the challenges and decided tried out the first one. We had so much fun," said Spencer, who is studying civil engineering technology at Dawson College. MacLeod is studying nursing at John Abbot College. 

WATCH: One of Spencer and MacLeod's video creations for the challenge

Cree youth submitted videos and memes to the #StayAtHome challenge. 1:19

Spencer said it was fun to check the Cree Nation Youth Council Facebook page and see the other submissions. 

"It really made us feel connected to our community," Spencer said.

Kaitlynn Hester Moses is the youth grand chief of the Cree Nation Youth Council. (Christopher Herodier/CBC)

The other goal of the #StayAtHome challenges, according to Hester Moses, has been to try and reduce some of the fear and anxiety young people might feel because of COVID-19.

"It is normal to feel like that. We want to support the youth to be calm in this situation because I think we're all  overwhelmed and kind of shocked [with] what's going on," said Hester Moses. 

The Cree Nation Youth Council has been holding their meetings through conference call since late March. 

She said they are also looking into to organizing more challenges and offering online workshops to help keep youth busy and having fun. 

They have also launched a goose break photo challenge and are encouraging young people to take photos while they are out for the annual goose break holiday celebrated by Cree in northern Quebec usually in May.

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