Suicide is a never-ending story in reservations across North America. There have been over 1000 suicide attempts in the Pine Ridge reservation alone between 2004 and 2013. And average rates in the First Nations are more than double that of the US.

In 2014, we had already invited First Nations youth to our camp in New York for the previous 3 years. We thought it would be good for us to go to them, and not only them to us, for exchange and co-operation. After getting in contact with one of the youth leaders, Richard Dumas from the year before, he invited us to hold a camp in his home community of Pukatawagan. With 20 volunteers from Chicago and Minneapolis riding in vans and a pickup truck, we departed to Winnipeg from Toronto.

With the help of councilor Lorna and the vice principle of the school, our volunteers were able to sleep and eat. We were able to invite students to have a camp. For three days, in the morning and afternoon we had a camp with the students and in the evening we had a program for the adults. We showed our performances and the students also performed for us. During the Mindset Education for the adults, we had group counseling for parents on topics such as child negligence.


IYF decided to introduce the First Nations to Mind Education, as well as a path its youth to connect with peers outside their own walls. This created a path to several reservations, where IYF instructors offered on-site programs called “Youth Camps.”

Attendees had trouble in group settings and could not sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time. Others were unable to follow simple rules at first. But they eventually started following schedules, obeying the rules, and having real conversations with their leaders.

Since our first Youth Camp, IYF has witnessed more and more young Native Americans and Canadians experience freedom from drugs, crime, and suicidal thoughts. IYF Youth Camps help them emerge from the indigenous community as productive members of society.


“Before IYF, I was in depression. I always isolated myself and I had no hope in changing, or that I would ever leave this place and truly be happy. After my friend committed suicide, I isolated myself even more and closed the door to my heart. I didn’t want to listen to anyone. However, after I met IYF through many activities, I listened to mind lectures and Gracias Choir music, and watched IYF dance performances. Through the mind lectures, my heart started to open. For the past 2 years, I’ve been active with IYF and now my heart is wide open and I am very happy.”

–       Nakisha, Winnipeg

“I learned how to open my heart and make friends through the World Camp. These days, I am invited to be a speaker at elementary schools. In the future, I want to be an official Mind Lecturer and be a positive influence to people.”

–       Tony, Cross Lake

“I was deep in drugs and last summer I attended the World Camp in LA and New York and quit completely. It’s so amazing I don’t even think about doing drugs anymore. I used to be a key player for a junior ice hockey team, but I quit because of drugs. Recently, I started to play again. I have three dreams now. I’d like to be a great ice hockey player, have a career as an electrical repairman, and have a happy family.”

–       Matthew, Norway House