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HomeNewsHay River News'We Matter' sends message of hope to Indigenous youth

‘We Matter’ sends message of hope to Indigenous youth

We Matter – it’s a simple message, and now the slogan for a new online campaign aimed at helping Indigenous youth contemplating suicide.

A brother and sister duo from Hay River launched the We Matter campaign Tuesday. Their website features videos from Indigenous people across Canada sharing their stories of personal struggle and perseverance.

Co-founder and filmmaker Kelvin Redvers says the national campaign hopes to connect short video messages to Indigenous youths who may be feeling hopeless or going through a hard time.

“There’s so many issues with suicide and depression and addiction in a lot of our Indigenous communities,” Redvers said. “This campaign allows us to bring hope and resiliency towards a very heavy and hard target.”

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According to a 2010 Health Canada study, young First Nations male suicide rates are 126 per 100,000 people – over five times more that non-Indigenous males.

Similarly, suicide rates are higher in young First Nations women compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.

National online campaign

People are encouraged to upload their own messages as part of the campaign. We Matter’s ultimate goal is to get messages from every Indigenous community throughout Canada.

“Every new voice added increases the likelihood that these messages will reach youth who may need to hear it,” said Redvers. “Our hope is that this campaign can be a small part of changing the numbers to have less suicides.

“But on a more personal level we hope it can start opening up conversations about what is a really heavy issue that in a lot of communities … [is] still hard to talk about.

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“If this campaign can be part of people starting … opening up, especially for our youth talking about things that they’re going through in a safe way, that is something that can make a real change in people’s lives.”

We Matter was modeled after the It Gets Better campaign aimed at LGBTQA+ youth. Redvers says he and his sister wanted to send a similar message of hope to their fellow Indigenous people.

“It’s about relatability,” Redvers said, adding the importance for young Indigenous people to hear from someone who’s been through similar circumstances as them.

“When you see that others have been through what you’ve been through, it helps you feel a little less alone.

“If you can have a message from someone who’s been through that same circumstance … that message means so much more to that youth.”

Video from We Matter’s campaign page.

To learn more about the campaign, visit their website.

If you are in crisis, contact the NWT help line at 1-800-661-0844, or Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

In an emergency, contact RCMP or your local health centre.

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