Attawapiskat youth group cleans up community to cope during suicide crisis
Youth says cleaning up his community helps him deal with his depressed feelings, helps him get through the day
There's a small group of young people in Attawapiskat who want to beautify their small James Bay coast community.
The group, led by 16-year old Jack Junior Linklater, has been volunteering to pick up litter over the past week.
Since Saturday they've been clearing garbage and debris from ditches, elder's yards and other parts of the community.
The team wants to clean up all of Attawapiskat and they plan on keeping up their work until all the garbage is picked up.
Linklater expects it should take them a month or two to do that.
The community has been in crisis of late, due to a number of young people contemplating suicide.
Linklater said cleaning up his community helps him deal with his depressed feelings and helps him get through the day.
He said when he gets down he likes to "help someone or do something positive", adding that doing that gives him hope.
Linklater described living in the remote community as a battle for hope.
"Every day I put up a fight struggling in school, at home, in the world," he said.
He said he wishes more people would keep the earth clean.
"My message to the community and every one else, not only in Attawapiskat, but all over, is to keep the environment clean and safe for all the children and everyone else around the world."
Linklater aspires to work for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry once he's completed his education, likely in environmental studies.
If Linklater's name seems familiar, that's because he's been in the news before for helping his community.
The teen was honoured as the Junior Canadian Ranger of the Year in Ontario in 2015, for his bravery during a house fire in 2014.
Linklater said it was on his birthday, on Aug. 2, when smoke and flames woke him from a nap. He called for the home's 16 residents to get out — but his two young nieces were left inside. Linklater re-entered the burning house, broke down a locked door and carried them out.