A young woman from Eskasoni First Nation says she’s decided to fight back after being mocked for years about of her appearance.

Hannah Battiste, 19, says she's been battling mental illness and dealing with bullies for most of her life.

“In November, I tried to commit suicide,” said Battiste. “I just had a hard time and I was going through therapy and stuff.”

Battiste lost her father when she was nine and her brother when she was 11 to suicide. She also had to deal with criticism because of her appearance and eventually quit school in the ninth grade.

“I started getting bullied when I started school because I was overweight,” said Battiste. “I was bullied in school and on my street. I was always beat up, picked on, people always told me to kill myself.”

Fed up with her critics, Battiste decided she needed to do something to turn her life around. That's when she created a portrait series online – a way of reminding people to keep their comments to themselves.

“I'm a good person. I'm talented. I'm beautiful and I'm smart. I don't care what I have or what other people think of me,” she said. 

For several years, the crisis centre in Eskasoni has been Battiste safe haven. Now she's helping other youth who turn to the centre for help.       

“Hannah has really inspired a lot of our youth to look at hardships you go through, but you can overcome it,” said youth support worker Arnold Sylliboy.

Battiste’s mother Norma Knockwood knows her community has had rough times. Eskasoni is the region's largest Mi’kmaq community and has had some major problems with suicide and drug abuse.

“She came a long way,” said Knockwood. “She accomplished some stuff in her life and helped a lot people.”

Battiste hopes that people in her community can see her as someone to look up to.

“I'm just a person I always wanted to be. I just couldn't come out. I'm a new Hannah.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.