Workshop: Shhh… Listen!! We Have Something To Say! The Power of the Youth Voice
Children and youth have a right to be safe from all forms of harm and a right to a life well-lived. Unfortunately, the issue of youth suicide is threatening the safety of youth across the country and across all demographics. It is of particular concern in northern Saskatchewan and among our Indigenous youth. Much research has been done on the topic of youth suicide, yet publications featuring the voices of youth are less prevalent. In December 2017, the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth (ACY) released the report Shhh…LISTEN!! We Have Something To Say: Youth Voices From the North. The purpose of this project was to engage with youth in northern Saskatchewan to hear directly from them why young people in their communities may be considering suicide and what is needed to prevent these tragedies. Several themes emerged such as bullying and lack of emotional support and young people make several calls to action on what they need to help them. Their voices are honest and raw accounts of their lived experiences of what its like to be a young person today and the importance of the role of parents, caregivers, families and communities to love, support, and care for them to reach their full potential.
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Corey O’Soup is a member of the Key First Nation and was appointed as Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous Advocate for Children and Youth on November 1, 2016. Mr. O’Soup’s commitment to empower young people to be ‘change-makers’ is evident in his life work as an educator. Through his extensive career working on behalf of children and youth, Mr. O’Soup has taught in the education system, and has worked in senior roles within both the Saskatchewan and Alberta education systems and the Federated Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). In these roles he has held positions of teacher, superintendent and executive director and more recently served as the First Nations and Metis advisor to the Minister with the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan. Prior to taking the role of the Advocate, Mr. O’Soup was appointed by the Premier in January 2016 as incident commander to lead the government response to the school shooting in La’Loche, Saskatchewan.
In his current role as Saskatchewan’s Advocate, Mr. O’Soup has released a special investigation entitled, ‘When Every Second Matters’ and a special report into youth suicide from the perspective of youth from northern Saskatchewan entitled “Shhh… Listen!! We Have Something To Say! Youth Voices from the North. Capturing the voice of hundreds of youth from northern Saskatchewan, this special report is a shining display of the power of youth voice and has taken the collective wisdom, voice, and several calls to action from these youth, on the topic of suicide, regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally. Mr. O’Soup’s passion and enthusiasm to share the stories of the children and youth he encounters in his advocacy is evident in his belief that the future is bright for Saskatchewan’s young people. When not on ‘official duty’ advocating for children’s rights, Mr. O’Soup loves spending time with his wife Jacinda and their five children.