Submitted by MNO Youth Council Chair Paul Robitaille
MNO Interim Youth Representative for the Georgian Bay
Métis Council Dalton Latondress shares his experiences at
the Hope Forum held in Ottawa on Jan. 21 and 22. Photo by
Rémi Thereault. Click here to view a larger version of the
Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) youth were among nearly 70 Indigenous youth leaders from across Canada to participate in the first-ever Hope Forum in Ottawa on Jan. 21 and 22.
Among the attendees were MNO Interim Youth Representative for the Georgian Bay Métis Council Dalton Latondress and Matthew Bombardier, who participated in the 2017 MNO Canoe Expedition.
The gathering focused on developing youth-led, strengths-based solutions to the suicide crisis plaguing many Indigenous communities. The forum was hosted by We Matter, a national multimedia campaign aimed at supporting youth mental wellness.
During the two-day event, participants engaged in a variety of interactive, wellness-related dialogue and training sessions. It included completing SafeTALK Suicide Alertness training and certification, working collaboratively with representatives from Facebook to develop additional safety features for youth in crisis, and participating in a national roundtable discussion on the Indigenous youth suicide epidemic.
“It was a very powerful experience for me,” said Bombardier.
“It helped me deal with some of the past trauma I have lived through and has helped me along in my healing journey. I met a new set of family members who I love and support. It has helped me to accept life as it comes. It was a life-changing experience.”
In response to the 2017 Annual General Assembly resolution on mental health for Métis youth, the MNO Youth Council and MNO Healing and Wellness staff worked with We Matter to ensure Ontario Métis youth have access to wellness programs and initiatives, such as the Hope Forum.
“Taking care of our Nation means taking care of our mental wellness,” said Katelyn LaCroix, Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario Post-Secondary Representative.
“It is so important to include the voices of youth when planning mental wellness strategies to ensure that the supports are relevant to them in their lives. Initiatives like We Matter, the Hope Forum and the MNO’s mental wellness platform are incredible first steps towards investing in the wellbeing of our Métis youth.”
The goal of We Matter is about promoting hope, culture and strength, according to its Co-founder Tunchai Redvers.
“It’s about creating a space for Indigenous youth to feel loved and supported,” said Redvers.
“Suicide is an issue in all Indigenous communities, regardless of cultural differences. We all want to feel cared for and like we belong. It’s in finding strength in identity and culture, and talking about our shared challenges, that makes us feel like we’re not alone.”
Youth experiencing mental distress can access the numerous mental health supports offered by the MNO at www.keepingitriel.com or call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.
Posted: Feb. 28, 2018