Hundreds in Winnipeg bid farewell to Inuk pop sensation Kelly Fraser - APTN NewsAPTN News

Hundreds in Winnipeg bid farewell to Inuk pop sensation Kelly Fraser

More than 200 people gathered at Oodena Circle at The Forks in Winnipeg on Jan. 4, 2020 for a sunset celebration of the life of Inuk pop singer Kelly Amaujaq Fraser, who died Christmas Eve at age 26. Melissa Ridgen/APTN.

Melissa Ridgen
APTN News
The song that shone the international spotlight on her featured prominently at a Winnipeg vigil to remember the life of Kelly Amaujaq Fraser, who took her life on Christmas Eve at age 26.

“You’re a diamond in the sky now,” said her older sister Jessie Aputi Fraser.

The hour long memorial filled with prayer, medicine and drum songs, was held at sunset at the Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks — a meeting place of Indigenous peoples for at least 6,000 years, where the Assiniboine and Red rivers converge. Fraser had been living in Winnipeg working on her third album, “Decolonize”, at the time of her death.

In 2013 Fraser gained international attention after posting a video on YouTube of a cover of Rihanna’s chart-topper “Diamonds” in Inuktitut. She later released two albums — the second, Sedna, earned a Juno nomination in 2018.

A statement from her family said the Sanikiluaq, Nunavut woman “suffered from PTSD for many years as a result of childhood traumas, racism and cyber-bullying.”

Fraser was open about her struggles with the hope she could help others overcome theirs own.

People who gathered as the sun set said they were heartbroken when they learned she had taken her life. They want her to be remembered as a rising star with a sweet heart and gentle soul.

Many have responded to Fraser’s death with pleas on social media to end lateral violence and online bullying, particularly of young leaders.

Last week, Nunatsiaq News reported a memorial was held for Fraser near a statue of Sedna, the mother of the sea to Inuit, in Nuuk Greenland.

In 2016 Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents 60,000 Inuit in Canada, devised a strategy to address the suicide rate among Inuit, which is among the highest in the world, especially among youth. Depression and abuse are listed as key factors in those high numbers.

Young people who are struggling can visit kidshelpphone.ca to chat with a counsellor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or call 1-800-668-6868.

mridgen@aptn.ca

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