When students at M.J. Coldwell Elementary School in Regina heard that children and teens on Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation were feeling sad, they wanted to help.
The First Nation declared a state of crisis after a 10-year-old girl took her own life on Nov. 21. Following the declaration, a Saskatoon woman started a card writing campaign, and classrooms in Regina have taken up the idea.
The grades 1-3 students spent two days decorating cards and making snowflakes out of Popcicle sticks, with help from teachers.
While the teachers don’t specifically discuss suicide, the students learn instead about emotional wellbeing through terms like the “blue zone” and “green zone.”
“The blue zone is when you’re sad, or sick, or tired, bored, and plain miserable,” said Grade 3 student Rebecca Knelsen. “It’s kind of sad to know that those people were in the blue zone and not feeling the best.”
Knelsen said she gets out of the blue zone by saying nice things to people and not having anyone say mean words.
“Around this time [Christmas], not everyone’s happy,” Knelsen said. “They’re not happy for some reasons and they will be much happier, I bet, once they get our cards and our snowflakes and everything we made.”
The cards the students made have messages such as, “Dear friend, you are special, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” or “I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! You are special! Yours truly.”
Each snowflake has a space for a picture with a simple message.
Grade 3 student Sophia Brown said the snowflakes are meant to show that everyone is unique.
“It matters because everyone needs to be different,” Brown said. “And if everyone’s the same, it would be a really boring world.”
Brown said she’s been in the blue zone in the past too.
“I hope the cards help them to make them feel a lot better and in the green zone,” Brown said.
A message for the children at Makwa Sahgaiehcan
Brown and Knelsen hope to send the message to the children and teenagers at Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nations School that they’re loved.
“We want them to know that we care about them,” Brown said. “Because they’re so unique and special — and they should know that.”
“We’re thinking about you lots and lots,” Knelsen said. “So that’s why we made these things for you guys. … Just try not to let anybody be mean to you or make you feel sad.”
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