Sask. woman starts Christmas card drive for First Nation in midst of suicide crisis

Linda Johnson started the Christmas card writing campaign in hopes of bringing hope to the students in the school.

Linda Johnson said she wanted to do something for the community she used to live in

People have sent pictures of some of the cards they plan to send to Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation School after hearing Linda Johnson's call. (Submitted by Anne Basso, Joan Therens and Lauren Mentiplay)

Linda Johnson lived on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation for seven years while raising her children. She says she still returns when she can. 

"It's our home and we love it," she said. 

Johnson said that while there are issues in the area, a recent suicide crisis shocked her. The community declared a state of crisis after a 10-year-old girl was the latest in a string of members to take their own lives. Since then, at least seven other young people have attempted suicide and been taken to hospital.

"I've been grief stricken and I just don't understand," Johnson said. "It breaks my heart to think that children as young as 10 years old thinks that this is the only way."

Johnson wanted a way to show students on Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation that they are cared about. She said some people were sending love and positive thoughts to students via social media, but some younger students may not have Facebook accounts. 

She decided on a simple idea: Christmas cards for the students. 

"It doesn't have to say much, it just has to say that we're thinking of you, we love you. And life is beautiful. Just keep on going."

The Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation School is accepting any Christmas cards from people interested in sending them. (CBC)

The school gave her permission and is looking forward to the cards, she said. The response to her idea on social media was overwhelming.

Johnson said she envisions a Christmas tree made out of well wishes that students can look at any time they want.

"I hope even just one child, their heart is touched and they feel like they're being thought of, and it gives them hope to just keep on keeping on."

One of the cards headed to Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, written by Charlene Vaughn. (Submitted by Charlene Vaughn)

Anyone interested in sending in a card can send it to: 

Makwa Sahgaiehcan School 
BOX 519 
Loon Lake, Sask. 

Where to get help:

With files from The Morning Edition