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Marrisa Brooks, at left, and Celeste Sylliboy are members of the Millbrook Youth Centre who are involved with an online video project aimed at assisting Indigenous youth who may be contemplating suicide.
©Harry Sullivan/Tc Media
MILLBROOK, N.S. -Always remember, someone cares and, yes, you do matter.
That is the message portrayed in an online video of hope created by members of the Millbrook First Nation Youth Centre directed to anyone within their community who may have thoughts of suicide.
"I just wanted to try and uplift any person feeling bad about themselves," said Celeste Sylliboy, 14, one of the group’s members who appears in the video.
“I just want people to see the video and realize that there are people there for them.”
The video is part of a We Matter initiative involving a national multi-media, anti-suicide campaign to remind Indigenous youth there is hope - and someone available they can reach out to for help if needed.
Sylliboy’s involvement was prompted in big part by a friend who died by suicide, despite the fact he had always appeared upbeat and active.
“It took a big toll on everybody in the community. He was so involved with everything I thought he was perfectly OK,” Sylliboy said. “It made me aware that people who seem fine, aren’t fine.”
As Indigenous youths, Sylliboy said the group wanted to commit to making themselves available in a non-judgmental way to others who may be dealing with substance abuse issues, depression, family problems or whatever, but who may be too afraid to seek help.
“We felt like this video would be a good way to put ourselves out there and show that we support this campaign as indigenous youth ourselves,” she said.
Fellow youth club member Marissa Brooks said she got involved in the project as a way to reach out to others with personal issues to let them know that regardless of what they are feeling, there is hope.
“I lost my uncle due to suicide and it was really hard on my family,” Brooks said. “I wanted to help others stay strong and prevent danger to other people and themselves.”
Campaign created to assist indigenous youth
The We Matter initiative was started by Vancouver filmmaker Kelvin Redvers and his sister Tunchai Redvers as a way to generate hope and reduce the prevalence of suicide among Indigenous youth.
"We created this because it's something we wish we had as teenagers," said Redvers, who grew up in a small Dene Nation community in the Northwest Territories.
“And we’ve seen a lot of the issues that exist in Indigenous communities and there’s also some of the issues that we’ve gone through growing up in high school and having a lack of positive Indigenous role models,” he said by telephone from Vancouver.
“And so we felt if we could create something that would bring a lot of the positivity that does exist in communities, because there’s a lot of strength that is out there,” he said.
The intention is to use a simple format, social media and short video messages, “to connect positivity across the country to those who might be feeling dark or alone.”
Redvers’s goal with the project is to have a video created by every Indigenous community across the country. About 100 videos have been created to date, which are now being used to create discussion in workshops they are holding in schools and community halls.
“And the response is overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
With files from TC MEDIA