M’CHIGEENG—Students at Lakeview School showed their support for the youth of Attawapiskat by creating and sporting t-shirts adorned with positive messages in a school-wide fashion show recently.
“We have been working with the M’Chigeeng Junior Chief and Council on this initiative,” explained organizer and Lakeview School supply teacher Michelle Taukei. “The idea came from social media and the ongoing coverage of the crisis going on in Attawapiskat with youth suicide. The students have been working in their classroom, learning about wellbeing through the medicine wheel and creating motivational t-shirts for the youth.”
Ms. Taukei told The Expositor that all the t-shirts for the project were donated and the goal of the project was to show the youth of Attawapiskat that M’Chigeeng supports them and is thinking of them during their hardship.
Fellow Lakeview teacher John Roy told the school assembly prior to the fashion show, “we are here today to show our support for our fellow Anishinaabe in Attawapiskat.”
“Your t-shirts and positive messages will keep their spirits up as they are going through a tough time,” added Mr. Roy. “I think when they receive them, it will help hold up their hearts and keep them moving forward.”
Mr. Roy noted that the Grade 7 and 8 students also wrote letters of encouragement for the youth.
Grade 7 student Johnny read his letter aloud. “I felt very badly when I heard about the attempted suicides of young people like myself in your community,” said the 12-year-old. “I hope my letter makes you happy. You are Anishinaabe people and you have the medicine wheel to help you through life.”
During the fashion show, each student had the opportunity to walk the ‘catwalk’ and show off their designs.
The t-shirts and letters were boxed up following the fashion show and will be sent to the Attawapiskat First Nation band office to be given to the youth of the community.
The remote Northern Ontario community on James Bay declared a state of emergency recently after 11 members attempted suicide in one week. In March of this year there were 28 suicide attempts. After the state of emergency, another dozen teenagers attempted suicide.