'We Matter' campaign speaks directly to Indigenous youth contemplating suicide
Videos of inspiration encourage Indigenous youth to not give up during tough times
A brother/sister duo from Hay River, Northwest Territories, launched a new online campaign, We Matter, for Indigenous youth who feel alone and are looking for support.
The website features videos of Indigenous people from across Canada sharing a personal story of struggle and perseverance. The hope is that the messages will encourage Indigenous youth to not give up.
Kelvin Redvers, filmmaker and co-founder of the We Matter campaign, said the aim of the initiative is to reduce the number of Indigenous suicides.
He and his sister, Tunchai, started gathering the videos in April. They hope to collect voices from each Indigenous community in Canada.
"By sharing our voices, by everybody standing up and sharing their own stories and their own messages. We think we can really help people that are feeling alone," Redvers said.
'There is always a way forward'
Redvers said the campaign is modelled from the It Gets Better campaign. That project uses video messages to support LGBT teens who are struggling with bullying and shame, and lack gay mentors.
"We think video is effective because it is personal, but you can use it across long distances," Redvers said.
"Someone from the Northwest Territories could create a message that could make a difference for somebody in British Columbia, or Ontario."
There are about 20 video messages online so far. Redvers also plans to send USB thumb drives of the videos to communities that have poor internet.
Sydone Okheena, 17, is one of the people who shared her story of growing up with cerebral palsy, and being bullied in Ulukhatok, N.W.T.
Don Burnstick, a well-known Indigenous comedian, also shared a video about the first time he heard about a suicide in his community, Alberta's Alexander First Nation, and the time he contemplated suicide.
If you are in crisis you can call the N.W.T. Helpline at 1-800-661-0844, Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut at 1-800-265-3333, or Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.
In an emergency, contact your local health centre or the RCMP.