Save the Children Canada and GSK Address Mental Health Concerns of Children Affected by Cat Lake Crisis in Northern Ontario

Cat Lake First Nation youth release “Run Free” music video as part of arts-based
Hurt & Healing Program

Mississauga, ON – Children aged 8-14 from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario have written and produced a music video called “Run Free”, a song about love, togetherness, family values and connection to nature.

For over a year, residents in Cat Lake First Nation have lived through a public health and housing emergency. As a result, many children are experiencing a serious impact on their physical and mental health. Through Save the Children’s “Arts-based Hurt & Healing Program”, in partnership with Indigenous artists at N’we Jinan and with support from longstanding partner GSK, the young people have learned how to express themselves, their thoughts and feelings, through lyric writing, musical creativity and singing. The project is empowering young people to overcome trauma, build resilience and emotional wellbeing, while amplifying their voices, stories and perspectives of life as an Indigenous young person in Cat Lake. The program also works to refer children to appropriate care based on their specific mental health needs.

“This workshop was amazing. On the first day, all the kids were quiet and shy, and by the last day we were all laughing together,” said Danyelle Wesley, Child and Family Prevention Liaison for Cat Lake First Nation. “I know I couldn’t have done what they did, standing in front of the camera and singing for the first time. I am so proud of what the kids accomplished. And now, Cat Lake and the youth can say ‘We have a song on YouTube, check it out.’ Cat Lake has something to be proud of.”

Now COVID-19 is further impacting the community and new challenges are arising, mental health programming is needed more than ever. Save the Children will continue to support and respond to the needs of children in crisis in Cat Lake and other remote Indigenous communities across the country.

“These children have achieved something remarkable. Every child and young person has the right to express themselves freely and be given a platform to amplify their voice,” said Bill Chambers, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada.

“In times of crisis, children can experience things no child should ever go through. With appropriate support, tools and innovative programs such as using art and creativity as a base for healing and managing difficult feelings, children’s resilience can thrive. We are extremely proud to be working with Indigenous artists to bring a culturally sensitive program to places like Cat Lake, where it’s needed the most” added Chambers.

“Since 2016, GSK and Save the Children have supported over 30 First Nations communities across Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta to build resilience in the face of emergencies such as flood and fires and both physical and emotional harm. The Arts-based Hurt & Healing Program provides the children of Cat Lake a voice to support their health and wellbeing and share a glimpse into their experiences, their lives and their community,” said Alison Pozzobon, Director, Corporate Communication and Community Engagement, GSK. 

About Save the Children

For over 100 years, we’ve advanced children’s rights in Canada and around the world. We do whatever it takes every day and in times of crisis — to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We strive to ensure children’s unique needs are met and their voices are heard— transforming their lives and the future we share. Because we believe every girl and boy has the right to survive and thrive. Find out more www.savethechildren.ca

About N’we Jinan

N’we Jinan is a non-profit organization that travels to Indigenous communities and schools across North America providing educational services in the music and art sector. They are committed to amplifying the voices and stories of Indigenous youth by providing the tools for transformative creative communication.

About GSK

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. For further information, please visit www.ca.gsk.com

Media Enquiries:

Michelle Smolenaars Hunter

Communications & Community Engagement Manager, GSK

905-819-3363

Jessica Bryant

Head of Communications, Media and PR, Save the Children

647-973-1185

jbryant@savethechildren.ca