Mental Health Awareness

"The Grizzlies has the power to help youth see how capable they are of coming together in the name of change."  ~ We Matter Campaign

Is The Grizzlies Movie About suicide? 

This movie is uplifting and unflinching. It does deal with suicide. Educators have the great privilege and deep responsibility of working with youth. Suicide is a challenging topic because of the pain it surfaces and dominant culture doesn’t have a lot of training in talking about pain, sadness or hopelessness. Suicide isn’t simple. It is a response to an absolute loss of hope.

Within the Canadian population, First Nations and Inuit people have the highest rates of suicide-related behaviours. This is a direct response to the unique conditions birthed from colonialism, marginalization, institutionalized trauma, structural violence, racism, and prejudice.

But the story isn’t simply about suicide. This movie is, in part, an invitation. It invites us into a deep conversation about colonial structures and the depth of the loss and pain they have caused.

This movie is also an invitation to engage in a conversation about the power of resilient and hopeful and absolutely inspiring Inuit youth. To witness the strength born out of friendship and family. The constant message of this film reflects the importance of working together to move through tough times. This movie tells us clearly that suicide is never the answer.

This is a powerful message of hope and resilience.

Beyond Suicide:
Promoting strength, culture and hope

If the youth in a small remote arctic community can turn the suicide statistics around, other youth and communities can too. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Stacey Aglok MacDonald, as producers from the North who have not only worked on THE GRIZZLIES movie, but have been living with this story, and others like it for our entire lives, are well connected across the north. Stacey grew up in Kugluktuk, and experienced what life was life before and after the real Grizzlies.

The real Russ Sheppard (Played by Ben Schnetzer in the movie) speaks of how thinking only of suicide prevention as a goal is actually a ‘low bar,” why are we worrying about a low bar
of stopping suicide only when we have a lot of other higher expectations that we should be looking at?” Speaking of the markers that matter overall in promoting well being he says: “Your worry is high graduation rates and college.” What he speaks reflects the need to be engaged in the promotion of overall mental health, which includes all the ways people can connect to each other, as well as gaining life-skills.

A Way Forward

Currently, we are partnering with Embrace Life Council, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) in the north and with We Matter across the country. Working with young Inuit actors from the movie who are connected to these issues in real life, not just on screen, we will contribute videos to the #WeMatter Campaign as part of our commitment to connecting the movie with real life.

The unflinching and uplifting true story of The Grizzlies is a perfect fit with our partners shared values. In particular, the three pillars of “Hope, Strength, and Culture”, that is the basis of the We Matter campaign, could be the tagline for the film.

We are calling on Educators to help us create useful and meaningful resources to accompany the films’ release. Please sign up as an educator and give us your feedback! Or email We would particularly love quotes we can share with others about how the movie has been used by educators.