Hugging the shoulder of Highway 2 between Prince Albert and La Ronge, is a modest convoy of vehicles carrying a very powerful message.
A group of family and friends have united in their effort to raise awareness about the epidemic of suicide in mainly remote communities and to reflect on their own personal loss.
The lead vehicle is adorned with pictures of and messages about loved ones who have lost their lives.
Prince Albert’s Kimberley Beatty, her brother Derek, and others who have been directly impacted by tragedy are taking shifts to walk the 240 kilometer journey north.
Kimberley has already been involved in the 'You’re Not Alone' suicide walk a few years ago, but she wanted to do more.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the loss of my dad three years ago and my grief comes and goes. Our family really suffers from depression,” Beatty said. “This started as a journey of self-reflection to help me deal with the suicides of my uncle and brother as well, but now I see how we can come together to help others who are also suffering.”
She said the walk represents Prince Albert, Little Red River, Montreal Lake, Sturgeon Lake, Stanley Mission, and other communities which have been impacted by suicide.
Kimberley’s brother Derek is from La Ronge but now lives in Saskatoon and said it’s been a tough journey dealing with the suicides in his family.
“It has been a rough and hard road, and we’re just walking to heal our wounds...and find the positives in life” he said.
Derek said the support from motorists so far has been amazing.
“We’ve had people stop by and gives us water, donations, money for gas. We got a bag of new shoes from a guy in Saskatoon who has also experienced the impacts of suicide,” he said.
The group hopes to reach La Ronge by Tuesday or Wednesday.
For Kimberley, who is studying Indigenous Social Work at the First Nations University of Canada, the walk is bringing to light what her dad always told her.
“He said ‘be a leader not a follower;' that’s what he wanted me to be,” she said.
Not all Indigenous communities struggle with abnormally high numbers of suicide, but the Centre For Suicide Prevention lists key risk factors. These factors include depression and other mental illnesses, alcohol and drug dependency, hopelessness, low self-esteem, sexual abuse and violence, parental loss and homelessness.
On Twitter: @princealbertnow
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