After losing sister to an overdose, woman dedicates life to helping Indigenous youth

Jaylene Delorme-Buggins is working with youth empowerment group LiveDifferent

After struggling with addiction and her own mental health issues, Jaylene Delorme-Buggins has dedicated her life to helping youth.

Now the Yellowknives Dene First Nation woman is travelling across the country to talk to Indigenous youth about suicide and mental health.

“As a teenager I struggled a lot of with addictions, taken off from home, and even at one point, being sent to Calgary from Yellowknife for treatment for 11 months,” Delorme-Buggins told CBC from Island Lake, Sask. She has spent the past two months on the road.

“My struggles got deeper and deeper.”

She’s travelling with a youth empowerment organization called LiveDifferent. Two teams have gone east and west of Canada, while Delorme-Buggin’s Indigenous team visits First Nations communities.

The team goes into schools and give motivational presentations and share personal stories of overcoming hardships. There are also workshops and sharing circle sessions “to help the youth open up those wounds and traumas” and making sure they’re equipped to deal with them after the organization leaves the community.

‘Someone took a chance on me’
Delorme-Buggins shared that she lost her sister a few years ago to a crystal meth overdose. She ended up taking care of her niece and nephew, which helped her stand up on her two feet.

“They needed a proper role model. They needed somebody they could look up to in the long run.”

Delorme-Buggins went back to school to change her life around to “become a better person for them.”

“I never thought anyone would take a chance on me,” she said. “I applied for opportunities, someone took a chance on me, and it empowered me to continue to do more.”

Delorme-Buggins said she’s trying to change the way youth think about life — how suicide is not the answer for dealing with depression, stress and addiction.

Delorme-Buggins said youth are opening up to her team about struggles in relationships, bullying and even losing family members to suicide.

“I think it makes a big difference hearing from somebody’s who’s been there,” she said.

“I wanted to be one of those people who actually walked that path and use those experiences to work with youth.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide in the N.W.T., call the confidential NWT Help Line at 1-800-661-0844. You can also call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.

There is also the First Nations and Inuit Watch help line at 1-855-242-3310.

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Written based on an interview by Lawrence Nayally produced by Rachel Zelniker
CBC News · Posted: Apr 07, 2019 10:32 AM MDT | Last Updated: April 7, 2019

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 19th, 2023