Inuk singer and rising star Kelly Amaujaq Fraser’s death by suicide on Christmas Eve came after a lengthy battle with PTSD due to childhood traumas, racism and cyberbullying, her family said in a statement obtained and released by CBC and other media on Monday.
“She was actively seeking help and spoke openly about her personal challenges online and through her journey,” said the statement, issued on Monday by her mother, Theresa Angoo, and Fraser’s siblings Mellow, Maxine, Jessie, Rachel, Christopher and Oliver.
“She was fiercely open with her fans in the hopes that sharing her struggles might help them know they were not alone. Kelly fought so hard to be well.”
The Juno-nominated 26-year-old songwriter was born in Nunavut and sang in both English and Inuktitut. She launched her singing career in 2013 with videos uploaded to YouTube, notably including an Inuktitut version of Rihanna’s hit “Diamonds,” and dropped her debut album “Isuma” the following year. Her 2017 sophomore album “Sedna” received wider acclaim and attention.
The cause of death was not revealed prior to her family’s announcement on Monday. Fraser died before she could start recording her third album “Decolonize” over the coming weeks in Toronto, where she had performed twice before.
“I want the young people to be inspired (so) that we can use our language however we want.” Fraser said in an interview with the Star in May.
Those closest to her understood her dream of fame came second to uplifting her Indigenous community, especially the younger generation.
Thor Simonsen, a music producer who worked closely with Fraser said she was in some way caught between two worlds — wanting to be on the charts next to Rihanna or perhaps her greatest inspiration Beyoncé, while simultaneously staying grounded in her culture.
“She was the poster child of a young Inuk woman trying to rise above the challenges that are so commonplace in Nunavut and the Indigenous community,” he said.
According to the family statement, Fraser should be celebrated for her “generosity, honesty, passion and love of life.” Fraser’s family and friends will hold memorials for her in Winnipeg and Iqaluit.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support Fraser’s siblings.
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