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A girl is filmed as she sings.

Indigenous youth promote resilience in music video

The Young & Happy song and music video highlights how healthy coping strategies can help youth overcome personal struggles. Credit: Laili Yazdani, RCMP

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The RCMP has partnered with youth and community groups in Onion Lake, Sask., to promote resilience and healthy coping strategies in a new music video.

The video, Young & Happy, was written by a group of local students and touches on issues like mental health, healthy relationships and murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Laili Yazdani, a Community Program Officer with Onion Lake RCMP, says it was local young people who wrote the song and decided on its themes.

"They have been openly discussing how these are issues that have happened to them or they've seen in the community," Yazdani says. "They found meaning and power from using their voice and participating in a creative process."

The video depicts a girl battling depression and a young man who finds healing through traditional culture.

"We wanted to highlight how to address these issues in a healthy way," Yazdani says.

Chelyse Naistus, a student who worked on the video, says the song's title connects to resilience and perseverance.

"When you're young, you want to be happy even if there's tough things going on," says Naitus, 13.

The initiative involved musical activities both traditional and recreational, beginning with traditional drum making, followed by a songwriting workshop, recording session and video shoot.

The song and video were produced by N'We Jinan, a non-profit organization that travels to Indigenous communities across North America to offer education in music and art.

The RCMP Foundation helped fund the project as well as the Wicihitowin Foundation, a group that promotes leadership among Indigenous youth. A local organization, the Ekweskeet Healing Lodge, also provided support.

Since its debut, the video has been seen more than 140,000 times on Facebook and YouTube and the group has performed live in the community three times.

They will be travelling to Saskatoon this month to perform at the Saskatchewan First Nation Child Welfare Conference and to share their experience. They also plan to travel to Winnipeg in April to attend the N'We Jinan Annual Youth Festival at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

Yazdani says they will continue spreading the message of resilience and hope to address other issues like gangs.

"If we could get the chance, we would like to do this again," says Naistus.

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