A grassroots movement to help suicidal teenagers on a native reserve in Manitoba is taking on a life of its own and will soon spread to communities across the country. #motherlove, was born in the heart of Ottawa woman, Catherine Landry and is being widely supported by her network of women who make up Ladies Who Lunch. The tragic stories of teen suicides coming out of Cross Lake she says made her cry, then made her angry, then moved to her to action. She contacted the children on the reserve and asked what they needed. They gave her a list of five things. Prayers, musical instruments, sports equipment and crafting materials to keep them busy, messages of support, role models who will visit them. Catherine set to work.
Now Facebook is on board too. Anyone who has been on the social media site over the past weeks could not help but notice a tidal wave of activity, pleas for donations to help the kids on the Pimicikamak Cree Reserve. There was so much action on the page, Facebook Canada took notice, liked what it saw, and contacted Catherine.
Catherine Landry was too busy for me to interview her on camera. When reached by phone, she told me she thought it was all a joke.
"I didn't think it was serious. Heck, I didn't know there were actual people at Facebook", she laughs. So I called the number he left, and it was credible! "My God, Facebook wanted to talk about what we were all about."
They didn't want to just talk. The Canadian arm of Facebook told her they liked what #motherlove is trying to do and wants to stand behind it, by teaming up it up with its own media partners, the National Post, newspapers and television stations.
Catherine was floored. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could capture the attention of people at Facebook. It gives our movement credence. There is an urgency to the crisis on our native reserves, it's time for action, and having Facebook on board expands our campaign nation wide."
For now, here in Ottawa, the race is on to be ready to host three members of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation at a Ladies Who Lunch event April 4th at the NAC.
The Chief of the Reserve, Vice Chief and a teenage girl are being flown in to attend. They will tell their story and be presented with the donations collected here in the Ottawa area.
I caught with some of the members of Catherine's team, France Lavigne, her Dad Andre and Mason Quesnel as they repaired and tuned instruments bound for the Reserve.
Mason Quesnel, an acoustic rock musician originally from Westmeath, in the Ottawa Valley, contributed his talent before flying out to Calgary where he will pick up an award at the Junos.
A donation of time, expertise and good wishes. So many people in Ottawa have shown what can be done when they work together for a cause. With Facebook Canada behind #motherlove, the hope now is that Federal officials will take notice. Carolyn Bennett, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs has been invited to the April 4th Ladies Who Lunch event. Her office says she is travelling, and unlikely to attend.
"That's too bad, says Catherine Landry. "She won't get to hear members of the band talk about the horrors of living on the reserve. And she won't get to see hundreds of people in our community shower them with love and then send them home with some very simple things that could make all the difference."
Work to begin taking #motherlove across Canada will begin in the coming weeks.