We Matter~Indigenous youth who are feeling alone

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I Matter~You Matter~We Matter

We Matter is a national campaign designed to share the message to Indigenous youth struggling with suicidal thoughts and other hardships that no matter how hopeless or lonely things feel, there is always a way forward.

Suicide rates for Indigenous youth are several times higher that of other Canadians, as well as instances of addiction, abuse, violence, and many other issues. We believe this doesn’t need to be the case.

OUR MANDATE

Our mandate is to communicate to Indigenous youth that their lives matter, and to provide resources to encourage and support those in crisis while fostering unity and resiliency. We provide a forum for people across the country to share video messages of hope and positivity with youth who are going through a hard time. By sharing our stories, our words of encouragement, and our authentic messages of hope and resilience, we help to make a community stronger. We remind youth that I matter. You matter. We matter.

MEET WE MATTER

The We Matter Campaign was concepted in the summer of 2016 by two First Nations with-love-smiley-emoticonsiblings, Kelvin and Tunchai Redvers, whom started We Matter with the belief that hope can be brought to Indigenous youth who are feeling alone.

Growing up in the Northwest Territories, they saw potential to connect Aboriginal youth, and provide help and guidance in an interactive, multi-media format. You can take part – by creating a video, artwork, or story – or simply watching and sharing (to friends, family, facebook, or even schools), you can also visit us at our website or facebook.

OUR GOALS

As We Matter grows, we hope to have video, art and written submissions from every Aboriginal community across Canada so that all youth can feel the support of their home community. We encourage you to add your voice. Your feelings of sadness, your feelings of hope, your own lived experience and your resilience can help remind youth why their lives matter. Every voice added makes a real difference.

 CANADA IS HUGE, AND NOT ALL COMMUNITIES HAVE READILY ACCESSIBLE INTERNET CONNECTIONS.

We are reaching out to share our messages in hard copy formats. Please connect with us if you would like to bring We Matter to your community. info@wemattercampaign.org

itgetsbetter-300x183Our model of sharing messages of hope and resiliency was based on the It Gets Better Project, an initiative to share videos of hope and positivity with LGTBQ youth. These messages remind youth that life becomes easier and gets better if they can get through the difficult teenage years.

We thank the It Gets Better Project for their ongoing support as our Organizational Partner, and encourage you to visit their website for more videos addressing community, strength and resiliency in the face of adversity.

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OUR PARTNERS

We Matter has only been possible thanks to the kind support of the people and organizations who believe in a world where Aboriginal youth have the resources to overcome hardships, struggles with mental health, and suicidal ideation. Please visit Our Partners page to learn more.

Visit We Matter on facebook

 


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Canada, home to the suicide capital of the world

In Pikangikum, gas sniffing is rampant and young people are taking their own lives at a shocking rate. Martin Patriquin
In Pikangikum, gas sniffing is rampant and young people are taking their own lives at a shocking rate.
Martin Patriquin

Randy Keeper is sick of building coffins. A wiry fellow who looks younger than his 49 years, Keeper is proud of his job as a carpenter and crew leader, saying he’s built 25 houses from scratch over 17 years in Pikangikum, the reserve in northwestern Ontario where he has lived his whole life. But when it comes to the wooden boxes he builds for Pikangikum’s dead, he draws a blank. “I don’t count them,” he says from his daughter’s dining room table. He remembers the last ones, though. They were in December. “I had to make two in one day, one for an elder and one for a younger person.”

The dreams started a couple of weeks after that. In one, he’s lying face up in a freshly dug grave, watching as a coffin is slowly lowered toward him. He doesn’t know if there’s anyone inside, but he recognizes his handiwork: 100 lb. of plywood, treated pine and nails, a simple enough thing that takes him no more than 90 minutes to build. In the dream he’s alive but can’t move as it comes down on his chest, smothering him. Then he wakes up. “The elders told me to stop making them,” he says, “but I have no choice because I work for the band. I get nervous, shaky. Once the dreams happened I’d say yes out of respect for chief and council, but sometimes I don’t show up.”

Keeper is in high demand. Pikangikum, a fly-in reserve located about 300 km northeast of Winnipeg, is a place constantly haunted by the spectre of suicide. Over nearly four decades, the people of Pikangikum have seen dozens upon dozens of their friends and family members take their own lives. Last year, six people from the Ojibwa First Nations community killed themselves in as many weeks. In 2011, the community of roughly 2,400 had a suicide rate equivalent to 250 per 100,000—nearly 20 times that of Canada, and far and away the highest in the world. It has been so for 20 nearly uninterrupted years.

In recent months, the Attawapiskat reserve on James Bay served as a reminder of the deplorable conditions in many of Canada’s native communities. The lack of adequate housing in the frigid temperatures, followed by an acrimonious funding fight with the federal government, has kept the James Bay reserve of 1,800 in the public eye for months—a rare feat when it comes to native issues.

Separated by 500 km of northern Ontario wilderness, Attawapiskat and Pikangikum both suffer from a raft of structural and social problems: lack of housing and running water, addiction and poverty. Yet a glance at the numbers suggests Pikangikum is worse off—much worse. Consider how 80 per cent of its housing doesn’t have sewage pipes or running water; consider how the community of 2,400 had just over 3,600 lockups and nearly 5,000 calls for service to police last year. Consider how only two students graduated from high school last year. Consider how, as recently as 2008, fully 40 per cent of referrals to Tikinagan, northern Ontario’s First Nations childhood protection agency, were from Pikangikum. And consider the suicides, which have taken 96 lives—the vast majority of them young—in 20 years.

Continue reading this article »»»»»»

Article courtesy of Macleans.ca posted March 30, 2012

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Northern Gateway Pipeline: Urge Canada to listen to First Nations

First Nations
Dear Melvin,

THANK YOU for signing Amnesty International’s petition on the CARE2 Petition Site for environmental activist Laisa Santos Sampaio.

Will you take action on a human rights concern a little closer to home?

A Canadian company, Enbridge, is proposing to build a pipeline that could have significant implications on the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The majority of First Nations whose lands and waters might be affected by the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline have called on the federal government to reject the project.

Amnesty International has heard from First Nations along the pipeline route in northern BC about the continued vital

First Nations are concerned about Northern Gateway  The proposed pipeline is intended to transport a daily average of more than a half-million barrels of bitumen and oil from the Alberta oil sands to a new facility in Kitimat, B.C. where it would be loaded onto tankers for export. Approval of the project would lead to : • pipeline construction across roughly 1000 rivers and streams in the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples in Alberta and British Columbia; • the transport of bitumen, oil and industrial chemicals across these territories and through coastal waters vital to other Indigenous nations; and • an expected increase in demand for oil sands extraction on Indigenous peoples’ lands in Alberta
First Nations are concerned about Northern Gateway
The proposed pipeline is intended to transport a daily average of more than a half-million barrels of bitumen and oil from the Alberta oil sands to a new facility in Kitimat, B.C. where it would be loaded onto tankers for export.
Approval of the project would lead to :
• pipeline construction across roughly 1000 rivers and streams in the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples in Alberta and British Columbia;
• the transport of bitumen, oil and industrial chemicals across these territories and through coastal waters vital to other Indigenous nations; and
• an expected increase in demand for oil sands extraction on Indigenous peoples’ lands in Alberta
importance of salmon and other wildlife to their cultures and livelihoods. We have also heard about the lasting harm that is still being experienced as the result of a long history of government decisions imposed on their communities – and the deep rift of mistrust that this has created.

Despite a lengthy public review of the Northern Gateway proposal, fundamental issues of Indigenous peoples’ ownership of the land, and their right to make their own decisions about its use, have never been properly addressed.

What the federal government does next will be a crucial test of its willingness to uphold human rights standards vital to Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.

Amnesty International believes the government must listen to First Nations.

<< Please write to Greg Rickford, Minister of Natural Resources, urging his government to live up to its human rights obligations by guaranteeing that the project will not proceed against the wishes of affected First Nations.

Thank you for taking action. What Canada does at home matters for human rights in Canada and abroad.
Sincerely,

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Alex Neve
Secretary General,
Amnesty International Canada

P.S. Thank you for speaking out for Laisa Santos Sampaio. You can find her case and others like hers on Amnesty's Individuals at Risk webpage. People with the courage to stand up for their rights need to have the backing of Amnesty International supporters like you.

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