We Matter founders awarded Governor General's medal

Hay River, N.W.T. siblings Kelvin and T’áncháy Redvers are being recognized for their work over the past five years supporting and empowering Indigenous youth with a Governor General's Meritorious Service Medal.

Kelvin and T’áncháy Redvers honoured for work empowering Indigenous youth

Siblings and We Matter founders Kelvin and T’áncháy Redvers grew up in Hay River, N.W.T. and are members of the Deninu Kue First Nation. (Submitted by Kelvin Redvers)

Hay River, N.W.T. siblings Kelvin and T'áncháy Redvers are being recognized for their work over the past five years supporting and empowering Indigenous youth with a Governor General's Meritorious Service Medal. 

The brother and sister founded We Matter, a national non-profit for Indigenous youth, in 2016. It shares messages of hope and love in an effort to support mental health. 

The medal celebrates individuals who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brings honour to Canada. The siblings were two of 98 people who were recognized this year.

"It's a huge honour. We feel humbled and it means a lot, especially to the organization," said Kelvin in a recent interview with CBC Trail's End host Peter Sheldon.

T'áncháy said the success of We Matter is due to the hundreds of Indigenous youth and community members who have supported their work over the years.

Kelvin and T’áncháy have travelled across Canada with the We Matter campaign.

She did admit to having mixed feelings about being awarded a medal from the Crown, given the kind of decolonizing work they do, though.

"Ultimately, what I hope it does is that it spreads We Matter's message even wider and even further and that our message is able to connect with those youth and with those communities in need," she said. 

Growing up, T'áncháy said she never saw images of successful Indigenous people in the media. 

"So often the representation or the media narrative surrounding Indigenous people and communities is one that's rooted in things like trauma and addiction and poverty. And why We Matter picked up so quickly, I think, is because it turned that narrative on its head.

"It was Indigenous young people, elders, role models standing up and saying, 'you know what, we've been through hardships, we've been through trauma, but we've overcome a lot of that. We've come a long way. You know, we're here being lawyers and doctors and actors and musicians.'

"And that is so, so powerful. And I think it's about time that Indigenous young people see a future for themselves represented in a positive way, in a way where they feel that there is hope for them to succeed," T'áncháy said. 

'The answers exist in the communities'

We Matter started off sharing messages of support from all over the country and delivering them to Indigenous youth through videos, artwork and poems.

Kelvin said he and his sister faced mental health issues growing up, and there were no resources that seemed designed to help them. They started We Matter to advocate and support Indigenous youth who may be going through the same issues they experienced.

Today, We Matter offers mental health tool kits for communities, holds mentorship training for Indigenous youth in mental health, first aid and public speaking and hands out grants to young people for projects to improve their communities.

"We always believe that that the answers exist in the communities, that the youth have the answers for how to overcome issues around depression and mental health. And often what we got to do is listen and give them a platform," Kelvin said.

"And the youth never disappoint."

T'áncháy hopes their work will continue.

"My hope is that Indigenous youth over generations continue to take on this work and adapt it to make it relevant to what's going on today and what Indigenous youth need today," she said.

"And I hope that communities and governments continue to support the work that we do financially so that it can continue and that people just keep sharing those messages of hope, culture and strength." 

With files from Trail's End