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Rash of Saskatchewan youth suicides triggers cross-Canada response

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WATCH ABOVE: A local musician is speaking out following a recent rash of Aboriginal teen suicides in Saskatchewan. Shallima Maharaj reports – Oct 30, 2016

The untimely deaths of five Saskatchewan girls has prompted reaction from multiple levels of government and concerned Canadians from coast to coast.

Each of the girls lived in remote northern communities and ranged in age from 10 to 14.

The most recent case involved a 13-year-old from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, near Loon Lake.

READ MORE: Fourth suicide involving young girl in northern Saskatchewan rocks communities

Former journalist and Canadian musician Keith Laboucan has spent several years engaging with Indigenous youth. Formerly one part of indigenous rap group Reddnation, he delivers motivational speeches to young people.

Keith Laboucan shares the inspiration behind a new campaign to inspire Aboriginal youth. Global News

“I came from a small community,” he told Global News. “It doesn’t matter if you come from a community of 200, 300 people. You can accomplish anything.”

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Laboucan has visited both La Ronge and Stanley Mission, to speak with indigenous youth. He’s part of a group called Going Miles. They run a program aimed at empowering youth and helping them succeed.

“The Aboriginal community is widespread. We are close-knit even though we are separated by kilometres – whether it’s hundreds or thousands across Canada.”

READ MORE: 7 aboriginal youth suicides in Alberta prompts recommendations: ‘Something more is needed’

Kelvin and Tunchai Redvers launched their own campaign to help aboriginal youth called We Matter. The brother-sister duo hails from the Northwest Territories.

“The idea with We Matter is that collective voices together can help raise everybody up and when everybody stands up and shares a voice. There’s a tremendous amount of strength in it,” Kelvin Redvers said.

“So We Matter is about gathering short video messages. One, two, three minutes long – of hope.”

READ MORE: 22% of Canadian teens considered suicide this past year: Kids Help Phone study

From musicians, to actors and other young people, the videos serve as a reminder for youth that there is another way out of difficulties they may be facing in their lives.

“This felt like a really unique way to approach and engage with indigenous youth.”

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The messages are filled with love, support and inspiration.

“The rates of things like suicide and addiction and depression in our communities is so high and I think there’s been sort of a national awareness recently. But the thing is, in our communities, it’s been going on for years,” Redvers said.

A map display the locations of a recent rash of teen suicides in Saskatchewan. Global News

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