People from all walks of life have submitted videos to the We Matter video campaign. Photo courtesy We Matter, Facebook.
The We Matter campaign for Indigenous Youth is hitting the road, with plans to hold workshops in northern Saskatchewan in mid-March.
Northwest Territories-raised Tunchai and Kelvin Redvers launched the video messaging campaign in October in the wake of youth suicides in northern Saskatchewan. The Indigenous siblings took inspiration from the success of the It Gets Better Project in the United States. They used that model to create a forum for people across Canada to create videos sharing their stories of facing suicidal thoughts and a message of hope to Indigenous young people who are facing dark times.
Since then, people like Don Burnstick, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the members of A Tribe Called Red have provided videos that have been viewed by millions through the We Matter campaign.
Tunchai, 22, said she and Kelvin decided to take expand their “platform of hope and positivity for Indigenous youth in Canada” and start doing community outreach.
“The most effective way to reach out to youth who may be struggling is to go to the communities, and go to the schools and talk with them and meet with them and do workshops with them,” she said.
The We Matter stop in La Ronge will also mark the start of a pilot project specific to Stanley Mission and La Ronge, which has been funded by Health Canada.
Each participating student between the ages of 10 and 18 at the school will receive a USB stick with almost 100 videos of people’s We Matter stories.
“A lot of First Nations across Canada have access issues when it comes to strong Internet connections and so in launching a video and social media campaign we were very aware that this was in fact an issue. We want the campaign and our videos to be accessible to all communities, and Stanley Mission is one of those communities where the Internet isn’t that great, and there is also a lot of need,” Tunchai said.
She and her brother started hosting the workshops in January, and will be travelling straight through until the northern Saskatchewan stop.
Tunchai said she grew up with the struggles of suicidal thoughts, abuse, bullying and intergenerational trauma that many Indigenous young people are going through.
“I am able to relate in that way to a lot of the things that the young people now are experiencing. And when I sit down and I talk with them a lot of the time it’s like, ‘I know what you’re feeling,’” she said.
“It can be emotionally exhausting when you’re talking about these issues all the time but on the flip side, it just fills me with all so much warmth, the amount of hope and positivity that we are able to bring into the communities as well as just seeing the strength and the wisdom of the young people and the messages that they create is really uplifting as well.”
The campaign will hold a four-day workshop at Senator Myles Venne School starting March 15, and at Stanley Mission starting March 20.
The workshops will address Grade 7 to 12 students.