Inuk singer Kelly Fraser spoke openly about her personal traumas and channelled her pain to help others before she died by suicide at age 26 on Christmas Eve, her family said in a statement.
“She was fiercely open with her fans in the hopes that sharing her personal struggles might help them know they were not alone,” Fraser’s mother, Theresa Angoo, and her six siblings said in a statement on Monday, nearly a week after her death.
READ MORE: Inuk singer Kelly Fraser dies at 26
They said Fraser died by suicide in Winnipeg on Dec. 24 following a long struggle with PTSD “as a result of childhood traumas, racism and persistent cyberbullying.” The circumstances of her death were unclear when it was first reported last week.
“She was actively seeking help and spoke openly about her personal challenges online and through her journey,” Fraser’s family said.
“We are still in complete shock and our hearts bleed for our sister.”
Fraser was an acclaimed singer-songwriter who blended English and Inuktitut in her pop- and hip hop-inspired songs. She was born in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, and launched her singing career in 2013 with an Inuktitut-language version of Rihanna’s Diamonds, followed by her debut album Isuma the next year.
Her Diamonds video has been watched more than 300,000 times since her death.
Fraser’s second album, Sedna, earned her a Juno Award nomination for best Indigenous music album in 2017.
She received the Indspire Award in 2019 for using her music and her own personal struggles to strengthen and promote Inuit culture and language, particularly among young Indigenous people in Canada.
“Kelly brings hope to Indigenous youth who are struggling like she has,” her Indspire Award profile says.
Fraser died while working on her next album, Decolonize. She had hoped to raise $60,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to fund the album, which would have been recorded in early 2020.
A GoFundMe campaign to support Fraser’s siblings through their grief has raised more than $39,000 since Friday.
Fraser should be remembered for her “generosity, honesty, passion and love of life,” her mother and siblings Mellow, Maxine, Jessie, Rachel, Christopher and Oliver said in their statement.
“Kelly fought so hard to be well,” they said. “We know that she would want us to continue to do our very best to take care of ourselves.”
Fraser’s relatives are planning to hold memorials for her in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. They’re asking for privacy while they grieve her loss.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
You can also call the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Helpline toll-free at 1-867-979-3333.