Linda Johnson and her three children. Linda was a former participant of the Women Warriors Lloydminster program from 2016-2018 while she completed her education at Lakeland College. I asked her to write this column to share her Christmas card drive for MSFN youth and to share her insights about the youth suicide crisis.
My name is Linda and I started the “Send Some Love To MSFN Youth” initiative. I am overwhelmed with joy and happiness when I look at all the Christmas cards Makwa Sahgaiehcan youth have received so far! It is amazing what a simple poster and social media can do when you want to reach people for a good cause.
Recent Media about Linda’s “Send Some Love to MSFN Youth” Initiative:
- Sask. woman starts Christmas card drive for First Nation in midst of suicide crisis
- ‘Dear friend’: Regina kids make cards for Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation School
My family and I moved away from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation last summer, but I worked for many years at the Makwa Sahgaiehcan school as an Administrative Assistant and my children are originally from this community. My heart broke every time I opened up social media and learned about another suicide (MSFN declares state of emergency). I would see the outpouring of love and prayers sent to the youth through the social media outlet, but I knew not all youth were seeing these. I wanted them to physically see, touch, and feel the love people were sending. That is what inspired my Facebook post, which then went viral. People from all over Canada shared the post and said they would love to send a card to the youth.
Youth suicide is something I have had to deal with personally. I lost my own nephew in 2017. Spencer was only 16 years old and his suicide was a devastating time for the family. My nephew was an outstanding athlete, everyone’s friend, and a loving, caring son and brother. No one ever thought that he would take his own life. It is a different kind of heartache when a child decides to end their life because they feel it is the only way out. The most recent suicide in Makwa Sahgaiehgaien was that of a 10-year-old glrl. These kids hadn’t even begun to know the beauty in life and all the learning and growing that was still ahead for them.
I truly believe that the adults in communities need to step up and lead the way. They need to take control back of their home and start to be there for the youth. Kids are crying out for attention. I commend the people who volunteer and take the time to start programs or spend time with the youth. I also believe in living a healthy lifestyle so that your children can follow your lead. It is definitely true when they say kids do as they see, not as they are told.
Even though I am not a teacher, my heart has always been with the Makwa Sahgaiehcan school and I try to help the children in any way I can. I appreciate the hard work that all the teachers, support staff and administration do in a school setting. I hope the parents at Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation also appreciate it and can learn from it, putting their children first and giving the youth a reason to live.
Please mail your Christmas cards for MSFN youth to:
Makwa Sahgaiehcan School
Loon Lake, Sask.
If you live in the Lloydminster area there is currently a toy drive for MSFN youth. You can drop off your donation(s) at the Gold Horse Casino, the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre, or the Sheepskin Loft.
I’ll be featuring two of the conference speakers per newsletter for the next six weeks. Please review all of our speakers in the conference section of this website.
Stephanie Montesanti, PhD, MA, BA (honours) is an applied health policy researcher with the School of Public Health (SPH) and Scientist with the Centre for Healthy Communities at the University of Alberta.
Dr. Montesanti’s research program is aimed at addressing the health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. Stephanie’s guiding principle is to be of service to the Indigenous communities who will benefit from her research. She partners with First Nation communities, regional and national Indigenous organizations, and government bodies on a range of projects on health policy, primary health care and mental health. Her current projects include a community-based project to examine the health and mental health impacts following the 2016 Horse River wildfire to Indigenous peoples and communities in northern Alberta, and working in partnership with Indigenous communities to develop a mental health strategy for the region; she is collaborating with Indigenous service providers and researchers to advance Indigenous primary health care in Canada; and currently working with the Métis Nation of Alberta to develop a Suicide Knowledge Awareness Training Program. She is also a strong advocate for patient engagement in the co-design of healthcare. Stephanie has also worked in global health on maternal health projects in rural Cambodia and health systems strengthening in Tanzania.
Jennifer Parrott MSc. BEd. BES. OCT is the Director of Innovation, Science and Climate Change for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.
Recent Media: Beaufort Delta student soars at national science fair
Ms. Parrott is responsible for managing the Inuvialuit Research department which includes 6 staff, 15+ internal research initiatives and over $3 million annually. She also is the Inuvialuit coordinator for the Beaufort Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment. She is currently representing the Inuvialuit on a series of national and international committees including: Arctic Data Committee (International), Senior level Inuit-GOC Clean Growth/Climate Change Table (National), Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results (National), National Inuit Data Management Committee (National: Chair), Inuit Qaujisarvingat National Committee (National) and National Inuit Climate Change Committee (National: Chair). Ms. Parrott is an advocate for Inuit self-determination, local capacity building and evidence-based decision making within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. She has acquired funds and introduced several student/mentorship opportunities in research for Inuvialuit beneficiaries (inside and outside the Inuvialuit Settlement Region). Ms. Parrott also leads research in the areas of carbon pricing, climate change, disaster mitigation and cyber infrastructure.