LITTLE CURRENT – A group of students from Wikwemikong High School, working with the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service and Debajehmujig Storytellers, have produced a public service announcement (PSA) about the dangers of drug use, with the video being shared hundreds of times on social media and amassing over 5,000 views in two weeks.
“You are the future. We need you and that’s why we’ve called you all here together,” said Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service Police Chief Terry McCaffrey at the Youth Empowerment and Safety conference held recently at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre in Little Current.
Police Chief McCaffrey premiered the PSA as part of his opening remarks at the conference.
“With that, I want you all to recognize the importance of getting help,” he said as the video concluded, emphasizing the importance of the message.
He stressed that if communities want youth to listen to the important messages they are sharing, they need to be involved in the process of solving the problem itself.
“Youth don’t want to be talked to; they want to be part of the solution,” said Police Chief McCaffrey.
That was true for the PSA’s lead actor, Ashtin Ominika, a Grade 12 student at Wikwemikong High School.
“My age group is the age of when kids are starting to do (drugs), I guess, because their friends of friends might be doing it and they share it with another person who shares it with another person,” he said. “At least someone you know is going to be like that, and it was definitely better for someone my age to do it rather than an old guy.”
The message seemed to resonate with the audience at the conference but it was destined to reach an even wider group. People of all ages and backgrounds have shared the Facebook post and the original video has been viewed close to 6,000 times within two weeks of its posting.
“A bunch of people have seen it and it makes you feel good that that much people are seeing it because it means people and their children are seeing it. I heard someone say they showed their kid and their mother started crying,” said Ashtin.
Now, Ashtin gets noticed from time to time and complimented on his role in the video.
“It was pretty fun. That was my first time acting,” he said.
The PSA was written and directed by Kerry Assiniwe and shot by Justin Deforge of Debajehmujig. The other students who acted in the production were Alex Desmoulin, Dustin Lavallee, Anina Pangowish and Hope Osawamick. Adam and Jesse Kaboni provided their skills in hand drumming and singing in the video.
Police Chief McCaffrey expressed his hope for the next generation and their capacity to strengthen their communities and improve lives for their own children.
“You are the future and you can make the change. Please be the leaders I know you all are,” said Police Chief McCaffrey.
The PSA was not the only video to come out of the conference. Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service has produced four videos directly related to the discussions at the conference to obtain perspectives from elders, youth and the presenters. There will also be a recap video of the conference going up on the service’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ WikwemikongTribalPoliceService. Those videos will be released as a four-part weekly series beginning this week.