An Indigenous youth cycle group passed through North Battleford Monday with a message calling for all youths to stay free of drugs and alcohol.
The group, from Black Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, was comprised of youths ages 17 and under. They were traveling from Prince Albert to Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., for the suicide-prevention awareness initiative.
The group of 16 youths and nine adults originally received a ride from Black Lake to Prince Albert when they started their cycle journey. Their trip commenced July 13 and will end around July 22 when the team reaches their destination.
Black Lake Band Councillor John Toutsaint, who helped organize the trek, said the event promotes a "healing journey" for the youth.
"It's important to get the youth focused on a healthy lifestyle for the future," he said.
Janella Boneleye, who assisted on the trip, said she hopes to get the word out about the project. She said youths often have many obstacles to deal with in life, including peer pressure, struggling with thoughts of suicide, and "all those negative elements that come into our community." Boneleye spoke about young people facing challenges of alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic violence, among the many factors that can make life difficult.
"There is lots in this world that the youth can see what the obstacles are," she said.
Boneleye said the cycle project aims to encourage young people to embrace a healthy lifestyle and overcome the hardships they face in their daily lives. She said she hopes more youths will discuss their problems openly and seek help before it's too late.
"We're trying to let them know we are all family and we can be strong if we stick together," Boneleye added.
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