Metro Morning

Attawapiskat suicide crisis moves boy, 9, to put message on school uniform

A young boy was watching the news one day when he realized he wanted to do something to help the people of Attawapiskat.

Toronto student wants prime minister to meet with aboriginal youth

Talan Cardinal, 9, says people at his Toronto school had words of support in response to the message written on his shirt. (CBC)
A young boy was watching the news one day when he realized he wanted to do something to help the people of Attawapiskat. 
Cardinal and his mother came up with the idea to put a note on his school uniform to get people talking about the situation on the reserve. (Metro Morning/CBC)

"I felt emotional," Talan Cardinal, 9, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning host Matt Galloway on Tuesday. "I felt like really sad."

The First Nations community located near James Bay in northern Ontario has been trying to cope with multiple suicide attempts in recent weeks, particularly involving young people. 

So the boy and his mother, Lisa Robinson, came up with the idea to put a note on his school uniform to get people talking about the situation on the reserve.

His shirt read: "Attawapiskat, we love you. We need you on Earth. You are our future. You all are important."

The boy's mother, who is from the Serpent River First Nation, wrote the message on his school uniform. When he was six years old, he walked around with a message of "Idle No More" on his shirt, a reference to the grassroots aboriginal movement.

Robinson told Metro Morning that sharing this message was the least they could do. 

"We can't really do much because we're so far away," she said. "This is basically the only thing we could do at the time."

Cardinal attends St. Bernard Catholic School in Toronto and said people he sees at school everyday expressed words of support and encouragement after seeing the message on his uniform.

He and his mother are hoping others will care about the crisis so the aboriginal youth up north are not forgotten.

Cardinal said he hopes to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet with youth in Attawapiskat to see what issues they face and how the federal government can help.

In the meantime, Robinson said she's proud of her son's compassion. 

"This is what's special about him; he cares about everyone else."