Sarain Fox is no stranger to the effects of poor mental health, growing up with the stigma that is attached to being Indigenous. Her early life was intertwined with the pride of being Anishinaabe and the horrors of the same when school started. Her father suffering in his own hell, eventually taking his own life, is a memory that haunts her still.
Fox harnessed lessons she learned from her young life and took advantage of her creative talents and energy to learn how to dance. She found herself “hooked” in the style of dance she chose, interpretive improv.
She became involved with other Indigenous performers: A Tribe called Red and Digging Roots and began appearing in their music videos.
Inspired by her mother, a therapist and Indigenous elder, Fox began what she believes is her calling, to help others to reach out to people who are struggling and give them a message of hope.
Fox is currently participating in a campaign for Sephora Canada, a popular make-up company, called Celebrating Diversity. She said she is excited to be involved in this campaign, knowing she will be able to reach many people, especially youth, with her message of love and hope.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) estimates that 10-20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder.
Depression and anxiety are the most reported with 3.2 million at-risk youth in Canada between the ages of 12 – 19, according to CMHA.
According to Statistics Canada: “Indigenous youth are particularly at risk for poor mental health. Just over one in ten (11.0%) of off-reserve First Nations youth and 7.8% of Métis youth report having a mood disorder.”
Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) wanted to highlight “the voice of an Indigenous person and her lived experiences,” during Health and Wellness week, according to Scot Wyles, president of CSI at Doon Campus.
“Raising awareness, reducing stigma around mental health, inspiring students to find their own truth and live authentically,” were the goals in bringing in Fox, Wyles said.
The evening was one of self-discovery and learning.
During a Q & A after her talk, Fox reached out to the students, thanking them for “being vulnerable by sharing.”
“I’m so glad I brought my daughter,” said Christina Restoule, a staff member at Aboriginal Services, Conestoga College. It was important to Restoule for her daughter to have this experience and to meet somebody like Fox.
Fox’s message to the audience was to “talk about it, speak your truth.” There is a possibility for all of us, hope and truth is the only way, she said.
Health and Wellness Week is an opportunity for students to engage in on-campus events that help boost mental, spiritual and physical health and wellness.
If you or anybody you know is struggling and needs to talk, the following links will take you to help.