Vigil to celebrate life of Kelly Fraser with songs, prayers and ceremony

2018 juno awards

A vigil Saturday will celebrate the life of Inuk pop singer Kelly Fraser, while giving those who knew her a chance to heal. 

Fraser, 26, died by suicide Christmas Eve in Winnipeg, where she had been living, her family confirmed.

She gained attention in 2013 when her Inuktitut cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds went viral. Her second album, Sedna, was nominated for a Juno Award in 2018, and in 2019, Fraser won an Indspire Award, which honours the outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. 

Her friend Johanna Elaina Googoo said she decided to organize the vigil to help her friends and family heal through songs and ceremony. 

“That way we can heal from each other and lift our spirits up at a time of need,” she said. 

Googoo met Fraser this fall while singing karaoke at a bar, and soon became close friends with her. A musician herself, she said she connected with Fraser over her passion for singing songs in their languages. 

“I do Miꞌkmaq songs and she does Inuktitut songs so we had a common interest of you know sharing our music with the people in our languages,” she said. 

“I felt like Kelly was the type of person that you talk to her for five minutes, you were friends. She was a really good person to talk to.” 

Inuk singer talks to Rosanna Deerchild 3:32

Googoo said she thinks that’s what Fraser’s legacy will be: bringing the music and language of the North to the rest of Canada. 

“She’s somebody that people can look up to and say yes, we know our songs, we know our language and thanks to Kelly, people see us now.”

The vigil begins at 4:30 p.m. at Oodena Circle at The Forks in Winnipeg. Googoo said it will be a big ceremony, with drumming, songs and smudging, to celebrate Fraser’s life rather than mourn. 

“She brought a positive message, so it’s important to celebrate that,” she said.

Where to get help

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention says.

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