Leela Gilday performing at Folk on the Rocks 2021. Sarah Pruys/ Cabin Radio.
NWT musician Leela Gilday’s work forms an integral part of a new national campaign launched by the charity Kids Help Phone.
Feel Out Loud, launched on Thursday, is a $300-million fundraising effort designed to help expand mental health services “to reach young people in every corner of Canada by 2024.”
The campaign is backed by a song, What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling), that combines Serena Ryder’s 2012 hit What I Wouldn’t Do with the title track of Gilday’s 2019 album.
The bridge of North Star Calling appears as part of the new mash-up, including the lyrics:
You are not alone Solid ground below Earth revolving North Star calls Together we’re strong Together we’re one We belong
Kids Help Phone said the new track was recorded by a collection of more than 50 artists across Canada that includes Gilday and Ryder.
Ryder said on Thursday that What I Wouldn’t Do was initially “about sharing where I was in my mental journey, and it was the beginning of me talking about where I was in that process myself, which I had never done before.”
“That’s what I have continued to do,” she said, “and what all my songs have been about since then. Being a part of this is the most amazing honour I have ever had in my life. Knowing we are a part of this together, Leela and I, is amazing.”
Gilday said North Star Calling was written “in response to our staggering and devastating suicide rates in the North and in our communities.” On Facebook, she posted a list of NWT youth who had also been involved the new campaign and appear in an associated music video.
“Mental health has always been a topic that I have gravitated towards,” Gilday said, “and I have used my public platform as a singer and artist to communicate the messages that you see in this anthem: you are not alone, I’ll be there for you.
“It’s my honour to be able to be a part of this and to help raise awareness about Kids Help Phone, which is an invaluable resource.”
The song forms part of a national campaign that begins rolling out on Saturday.
That campaign will be “a call to action on behalf of the 8.2 million young people in this country who need space to express and explore all their feelings in a safe and non-judgemental way,” Kids Help Phone said in a press release, describing a “digital transformation” that is required to break down barriers to mental health services and offer help to children when and how it is needed.
At a campaign launch hosted by Universal Music Canada, Kids Help Phone president Katherine Hay said: “Right now, youth in Canada are in crisis. War, trauma, social injustice, racism, climate change. Young people are experiencing these real issues in real time while trying to stickhandle their world.”
Hay said this was the “time for a national movement” as she announced starting donations of $15 million each from Bell Canada and BMO.
“The issues young people face today are big and can’t be addressed without action,” she said.
On her website, Gilday says her North Star Calling album is “about facing your fears, standing in the pain, and living with courage, boldness and joy.”
The album is “also about things that scare me: suicide rates of our people, racism, the unending suffering and beauty of life,” Gilday wrote. “It is also, for the first time and in an honest way, about healing.”