‘Brighten their day’: suicide crisis sparks card-writing campaign to First Nation

Linda Johnson, of Saskatoon, holds a card with messages written for Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation children.
Linda Johnson, of Saskatoon, holds a card with messages written for Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation children. File / Global News

Following three recent suicides and the declaration of a state of crisis in Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan, a former resident has come up with a personal and accessible way to address the issue.

She’s started a Christmas-card writing campaign, asking people from across Canada and beyond to send hand-written messages of love and hope to Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation School.

“Anything you’d like,” said Linda Johnson, who used to work at the school herself. “That they’re being thought of, prayed for, loved — I think, right now, they need to realize how valuable life is.”

She thinks to put these words in their hands, in a physical format, can have a big impact.

“Even just reading a few words from a stranger and knowing that person is from say, Saskatoon, could brighten up their day.”

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READ MORE: Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation declares state of crisis after 3 recent suicides

The First Nation has been reeling since the community of 1,000, situated about an hour and a half north of Lloydminster, was struck by three suicides in as many weeks. The most recent death involved a 10-year-old girl.

The three recent deaths make for seven total suicides recorded in the community in just three years.

Johnson and her family, who now live in Saskatoon, lived in Makwa Sahgaiehcan for more than seven years.

“My heart breaks for what’s going on there right now.”

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READ MORE: Sheshatshiu: Innu First Nation in Labrador declares suicide crisis

Since first posting about the campaign on social media, Johnson said she’s received a lot of good reactions.

“I see a lot of heartbreaking things happening in this community but this is a positive,” she said.

“I want to send as many positive vibes as I can to Makwa and let them know we’re here for them.”

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Johnson said the school has told her she can tell people to send their letters directly to 501 2 Ave, Loon Lake, SK S0M 1L0.

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