Crush the Crisis: First Nations performers in Yukon speaking out about addictions crisis

First Nations performers in Whitehorse are lending their voice to Yukon’s addictions crisis.

A handful of musicians will perform for an event called Crush the Crisis, an online show aimed at honouring the lives lost to Yukon’s opioid crisis.

According to the most recent news release from Yukon’s chief corner, eight people have died in the territory from a drug overdose in the first six weeks of 2022.

“If we can put out music to help people in any way – people in the North don’t even have a week to grieve,” says Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation citizen Yudii Mercredi.

Mercredi is one half of hip-hop duo Vision Quest, who will be performing at the event on March 4.

He says his home community of Old Crow in northern Yukon is feeling the weight of the crisis. At least two of the people who died recently were from Old Crow.

“Families are losing young members of their family at the drop of a hat,” he says. “You can see the struggle in the community as it is right now. You can see people hurting.”

Mercredi hopes his performance will draw attention to the Ogilvie Creative House in Whitehorse, which is organizing and live streaming the show.

While the space isn’t open to the public yet, it will be free to use for young creatives and has a recording studio and other creative facilities.

Mercredi says making music can be healing for young people who are struggling, and the space could be a “great way for youth to express themselves.”

People have their own outlets, but I like to write and some kids like to write too, and this could be a great place for them to come,” he says.

Dalton Moore, a rapper who performs as Mobb Diggity, is also lending his voice to the issue.

The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations citizen says addiction is often rooted in intergenerational trauma from residential school, something he’s experienced firsthand.

“I’ve personally felt the effects of that throughout my family, and this music has definitely helped me paint a clearer picture of what we need as a people,” he says.

He adds much of the music he’ll be performing at the show has an underlying message about addictions and mental health, which he hopes will help people who are struggling.

“I hope I can help a lot of people with what I have to say in the subject matter of my lyrics because my lyrics are definitely my most important thing to me,” he says.

The show’s organizers will also promote supports throughout the event with its partner Blood Ties Four Directions, a harm reduction organization, including information regarding the territory’s supervised consumption site and naloxone training.

Mercredi hopes people watching will be inspired to reach out if they need help.

“If we can do a little part to make a big change, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

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