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DAREarts Attawapiskat 2017 Song: We are the People & Reflection: artist-educator

The following post originally appears in DAREarts blog and has been reposted with DAREarts’ permission. Special thanks to DAREarts for sharing this piece with us and for inviting ArtBridges to participate. For more information on DAREarts, please visit DAREarts.com 

Written by DAREarts artist-educator Glenn Marais.

“DAREarts came to the community of Attawapiskat to hear a story about the original Bear Clan from a knowledge keeper, John Matthews, and to take that story and create a film, visual art, a song and a slideshow of pictures to accompany the music. We worked for three days, two seventy five minute periods, with the high school students on a very condensed schedule, including two evenings and one day after school.  What happened was incredible as the students and teachers came together and worked in the spirit of true partnership to create a stunning and moving cinematic interpretation of the story, with original music created by them and a powerful and moving song that expressed the story of their lives and their love of the land.

The sun sets late in Attawapiskat. At 10:00 O’clock it starts to go down and the night sky comes out, crystal clear constellations arcing across the stratosphere, a sailor’s map, starry legends over a world that sleeps but does not rest.  It rises early, breaking the horizon with a brilliant northern radiance illuminating the dusty streets and weathered roofs of the reserve.  The homes are falling apart after the tyranny of the long, cold winter and the morning sounds of rumbling trucks and nails being driven, blend into the chaotic orchestra of a community waking and beginning to move through the day. Its sounds are just like any other town or community coming to life with the promise of the morning. Only here, it is less about promise than survival. There is a magnificent white Catholic church, tall and majestic by the water with stained glass windows that tell the history of the people and whispers of apologies for past wrongs.  Truths have yet to come and apologies given for Residential schools and that is part of the healing that must happen. It is part of a history long buried, that has been disturbed, opened and left like a forgotten graveyard.

Today’s youth live within the reality of the schools ignoble past.  In the shadow of their parents haunted memories, they struggle to burst free and find the glorious sun that shines so long in the summer and hibernates in the winter. Yesterday, one of the high school students walked and talked with us and her words were true, direct and honest, filled with a piercing, unabated intelligence that captivated and charmed us and as she ascended the wooden stairs that are ubiquitous in this community, slowly opening the door to her home that rested in a state of decay, my heart broke for her and I felt ashamed because my feelings seem powerless to help her.

The name reserve fails to describe the pulsing heart of this community.  What a shallow name for a community of people.  We name things in this world for convenience of categorization and to displace the fact that we have committed wrongs. A dressed up wound still bleeds despite our arrogant nature and human nature is arrogant, particularly when it vaunts it’s self as civilized and tromps over anything that doesn’t fit inside it’s neat, tight lineage. The reserve isn’t a dumping ground for an inconvenient culture.  It is a living breathing community that celebrates and mourns, dances and shuffles, sings and cries like any other.  When you fly into a northern community, the sheer beauty of it is staggering.  Hundreds of pristine lakes and rivers dot the landscape of silty islands, whose fish laden waters and abundant wildlife enrich the land. The land is the mother and the connection runs deep, through memories, and stories of creation, and growth with 44 clans coming from the original clan bear clan.  An ancient system of identification and relationship to the animal world that kept the bloodlines as pure as the waters that surround this island community.  The name Attawapiskat means, “People of the parting of the rocks” and it is an island of many created by the surge of the mighty Attawapiskat river, where the people live in harmony with great respect for nature and the balance of life.

This land is much more than its surface appearance of dirt, dusty roads and broken homes. It has the pulse of the Earth mother and connects the people in ways we can’t begin to imagine. We look at land as possession, here it is the heartbeat of a world that is interdependent, with everything flowing and weaving in and out of a glorious kaleidoscopic tapestry that bedazzles the eyes and stirs the soul. It is the sound of a motorboat powering a launch into the rising sun, the crack of a rifle across a winter plain, bringing home food to a family during the cold winter season, and it is the cry of the pow wow singer whose voice is the sound of the elders echoing through the universe. What great spirit inhabits this land and what wonders await if we can learn to walk in humble shoes and beside our First Nations people.

I have heard people say we should remove them from the reserve and integrate them into society as if the “them” in this conversation are inanimate beings that we can move on some self-righteous chessboard. What about a question? How can we work with you to make things better for you? Where can we begin and sit down with you as brothers and sisters in a circle and come to an understanding and a reckoning of our true history, so that we can move forward together, like the two rows on the Iroquois Wampum belt, in a peaceful union? I don’t dream of such things, I speak of them and when I play my guitar and sing and drum, I sing to the heavens, the Earth, my family and my promise, to never stop until things change.  For now, I walk these dusty roads with my eyes, ears and heart open and look always forward to the sun, moon and stars, just like the words in the song that we wrote together:

“We are the sun, moon and stars, we are the trees
All around us, is everything we need
Everything we need is all around”

We live in an abundant world, made shallow by greed, and in this great land of broken promise and faded dreams are the glittering embers of a glorious past that knew, everything we needed was around us and not to take more than we needed. I heard a story on this trip from a noble young man of great character from Attawapiskat, who told us of being pursued by a wolf, when his skidoo broke down.  He told us how he shot around the wolf to scare him off and kept doing this even as the wolf closed in on him.  A man of lesser character would have killed the wolf.  He did not. This is the character of a man cast in iron and made of blood and bone who taught me so much with the simple power of his story.  Our life is meant to be lived in the teachings, with humility and wisdom with respect for ourselves and the world, with courage in the face of danger, so that we will lead with love and honesty, and in that way come to know our truth. To know the teachings of the grandfathers is easy, to live them is hard. Thank you my young friend for a life well lived and lessons well taught.


To read an overview of DAREarts’ week in Attawapiskat, click here.

DAREarts is a charity that empowers young at-risk Canadians aged 9 to 19 to ignite change as leaders. Visit darearts.com to learn more. DAREarts ‘First Roots’ program partners with First Nations to work alongside youths, local artists and elders and, together, address challenges such as school absenteeism, hopelessness and suicide.

PROJECT SUPPORTERS: Province of Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport; Ontario150; Northbridge Insurance; Anne Livingston; David & Teresa Thomas; Noront Resources; The Paul Semple Award; Allan Drive Middle School”

-posted with permission from DAREarts, read the original post here
Read DAREarts’ profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

DAREarts in Attawapiskat: “Our Stories are a Part of Us”

The following post originally appears in DAREarts blog and has been reposted with DAREarts’ permission. Special thanks to DAREarts for sharing this piece with us and for inviting ArtBridges to participate. For more information on DAREarts, please visit DAREarts.com 

“In June 2017, DAREarts returned to Attawapiskat FN for a week of empowering workshops that helped many youth discover their voices and inner leadership. DAREarts workshops are facilitated by DAREarts artist-educators in partnership with the community. 

The first of our team to arrive in Attawapiskat FN was DAREarts artist-educator and cinematographer Peter Elliott, who met with the grade 7s of Kattawapiskak Elementary School on Friday to introduce them to DAREarts and the art of filmmaking. The class watched several short films created by other DAREarts First Nations youth. Peter then dared the class to take a big risk without being afraid of failure: they were going to create their own short film in just ONE day! In groups, the class ventured out onto the school grounds armed with cameras and creativity, capturing a variety of different angles and shots. Peter then used this footage, along with stock footage of an alligator, to bring their hilarious creation to life as “Attawapigator”. When they saw their video it was a raging success, and they asked for an encore viewing. Despite many of the students being quiet and shy, they were now ready to take on more DAREarts!

DAREarts Lead Teacher Laura MacKinnon, DAREarts artist-educator and musician Glenn Marais, and ArtBridges’ Seanna Connell arrived over the weekend to join Peter. The team met the grade 9 class at Vezina Secondary School on Monday morning, and after a creative introduction the class welcomed knowledge keeper John Matthews. He captivated the students with a story of the first clan, the Bear Clan, offering the youths inspiration for the week ahead. In the afternoon the team met the grade 12 class and repeated their introductions, and John Matthews returned to share the story with them as well. Both classes were invited to work with the team in the evenings throughout the week. The first evening had a small turnout, but was massively productive! Colin arrived first, spending the evening making beats on the keyboard with Glenn, brainstorming lyrics with Laura, and learning to use the video camera with Peter. Tyler then arrived, making a beeline for Glenn who worked with him to compose a whole melody on the keyboard. Chandler and Jamie were the last to arrive, working with Laura and Seanna to capture footage and write the film’s plot.

Tuesday was fast-paced, with the class formed into two groups: the Musicians and the Film Crew. The musicians worked with Glenn and Laura on the verses for their song and created music for their short film, while the film crew started casting and shooting their first scene with Peter and Seanna. A few of the youths were hanging back, but they took action when given the roles of assistant director, set photographer, and editor. In the evening, youths Keenan, Colin, and Jack Jr. (who is also a DAREarts Leadership Award recipient) arrived right away. Keenan worked with Glenn and Jack Jr. to record two rap verses he had written during the day, and Colin was joined by another arriving youth, Chandler, to go out and film using the shot list.

On Wednesday, another group was created: Visual Artists! Throughout the day, the musicians finished writing the chorus of their song and prepared introductory music for the film score. One youth, Ambrose, skillfully layered different notes and sounds to add the finishing touches to the chorus. The film crew worked on several group shot scenes in the teepee frame near the school, with youth Jade working as our set photographer. The visual artists created chalk pastel drawings of bears that were integrated into the film using green screen. In the evening, several youths met to record parts of the song, and Jack Jr. offered to narrate the film. Colin acted as audio engineer, Syvanna sang the chorus, Jack Jr. sang and recorded a traditional hand drum song, and Tyler rapped to add a powerful end to the track.

Thursday was a special Culture Days celebration at the school, so our team spent the day preparing the materials the youths had created. On Friday afternoon, everyone was welcomed to a special feast at the school that celebrated both the traditional Culture Days activities and the youths’ accomplishments with DAREarts. The feast began with a prayer and then everyone ate, enjoying many local delights. Once finished, they squeezed into teacher Mandy Alves’s classroom to screen the youths’ film, “Bear Clan”, and a slideshow music video created using their song and photography. There was laughter and joy all around! The students and audience squished together for a group photo before saying their goodbyes for the night.  It was the perfect end to a very special week, and the youths were so proud to bring smiles to the faces of their elders, teachers, families, and community members.


To read artist-educator Glenn Marais’s reflection, click here.

DAREarts is a charity that empowers young at-risk Canadians aged 9 to 19 to ignite change as leaders.  Visit darearts.com to learn more. DAREarts ‘First Roots’ program partners with First Nations to work alongside youths, local artists and elders and, together, address challenges such as school absenteeism, hopelessness and suicide.

PROJECT SUPPORTERS: Province of Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport; Ontario150; Northbridge Insurance; Anne Livingston; David & Teresa Thomas; Noront Resources; The Paul Semple Award; Allan Drive Middle School”

-posted with permission from DAREarts, read the original post here
Read DAREarts’ profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

Video Highlight: DAREarts Toronto to Webequie “Musical Handshake”

“At their special showcase performance on March 2nd, 2017, the DAREarts Toronto Winter Program delegates from the Rexdale area shared the stage with artist-educator Glenn Marais to sing “Spirit of the North”. This song was composed by the DAREarts youth of Webequie First Nation, a fly-in only community in northern Ontario, alongside Glenn in 2011.

Their song shares their hope, their courage, and their determination to make a difference in the world — words that resonate deeply with all of our youth. This “musical handshake” helps connect our urban youth with our remote Indigenous youth, breaking the boundaries of isolation and letting all of our children know that they all must work hard to achieve their hopes, dreams, and their visions for a better tomorrow.”

-from DAREarts youtube channel

The Art of Inclusion / L’art de l’inclusion: Video Highlight (a collaborative partnership project)

“Cette exposition collaborative est née d’un partenariat entre les programmes éducatifs et communautaires du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, la Fondation Michaëlle Jean et le Centre de recherche-action sur les relations raciales. Le projet dérive de nos idées communes sur le dialogue, la tolérance, l’inclusion, l’engagement civique, la compréhension mutuelle, ainsi que de l’importance que nous accordons au rôle de l’art en tant que vecteur de paix et moteur de progrès social.

This collaborative exhibition is the result of a partnership between the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Education and Community Programmes, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and the Institute for Research and Education on Race Relations. The project emerged from our shared visions of dialogue, tolerance, inclusion, civic engagement, mutual understanding and from our commitment to the role of the arts as a medium of peace and a catalyst for social change.”

-from MBAM MMFA

Program Highlight: Community Heartbeat (BluePrintForLife & BluePrint Pathways)

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“BluePrintForLife has now delivered over 120 projects in over 50 communities receiving national and international awards and recognition as a healing program. We have some exciting news ! Blueprint has developed a new mental health program to re-engage communities we have visited in the past, and engage youth who were to young to attend our program previously.

We will still deliver our flagship week intensive where we become the replacement school for a week, but we will not only employ traditional cultural elements but we will be designing a full community show incorporating, dance, stomping and drumming.

blueprint-troysextonWe are excited to highlight Troy Sexton who has toured the world in the musical Stomp and is currently the official bucket drummer for the Toronto Raptors basketball team. We will be creating a customized community show that represents elements reflective of each unique community we visit. We will be asking communities to lend things like oil drums, snowmobiles, canoes, kayaks, Kamitiks etc which will all help create the unique stage design the youth will be interacting with.

When we need a break from stomping, drumming and cultural activities we will be engaging the youth on topics that you want Blueprint to address such as bullying, drugs and alcohol, abuse, suicide, managing anger and healing paths. We will also be introducing meditation, journaling, and spoken word during the week.

Teachers, social workers, police, elders, recreation coordinators, and school counselors are strongly encouraged to attend as this is guaranteed to be amazing professional development and training for them, creating deeper relationships within the community.

blueprint-pondinlet

All of this will be filmed and a short video produced of the week and final show so the community can relive the pride, passion and hope. This program typically takes place from 9 am to 5 pm each day from Monday to Friday with the final night show being Friday evening.

Blueprint is looking at numerous funding opportunities to help subsidize our new program so that communities will not need to bear all of the cost. We are asking communities to send us a simple one page letter stating you are excited to look at Blueprint returning and engaging your youth on a range of mental health issues with this unique healing program. We will use these letters to assist in our search for funding.

Email Steve@blueprintforlife.ca if you are interested in having “Community Heartbeat“ come to your community. Mental Health letters of recommendation are available upon request.
We look forward to returning to your community, seeing old friends, and creating new ones.”

-submitted by BluePrintForLife

Highlights of ArtBridges’ Site Visits in Montreal 3/3

 

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Catherine, ready for a day of site visits!

Last June, ArtBridges/ToiledesArts’s Project Director, Seanna Connell and Francophone Community Arts Coordinator, Catherine Lamaison, spent a week in Montréal to visit and meet 19 community partners and learn about the work that they do on the ground. While most of the ArtBridges/ToiledesArts’ team’s work is done online or over the phone from our Toronto office, getting a chance to travel, see community arts programs in action and finally meet partners in person is always highly inspiring and gives all the meaning to our work.

We’ve decided to dedicate a series of three blog posts to the amazing community arts and arts for social change initiatives we’ve discovered in Montreal. Check out part 1 and part 2 here.

Thursday June 23rd
After three days of visits, we were so inspired by all this new information and discovery that it became difficult to talk about it right away, we needed time to process it all. In the meantime, we kept going and were on our way to more exciting meetings for our last day in town: Exeko, Cafe Graffiti, NDG Seniors Atelier, Les Impatients, ELAN and Cirque Hors Piste.

Exeko is a very innovative and progressive organization offering a variety of programs, all extremely creative and aiming at achieving social inclusion through art and philosophy. Exeko’s approach consists in creating collective thinking spaces where everyone is equal, through the organization of critical or creative workshops and programs.  They are Spectrum Productions’ neighbours, in a big arts building in Le Plateau.

Raymond Vigier, founder of Café Graffiti, in the arts studio.

Café Graffiti is an organization that has existed for 30 years in the Maisonneuve neighbourhood, relying on an interesting business model. The publication of a magazine (a prevention tool sold all over Québec, mostly in schools, in French and English and edited by the founder of Café Graffiti, Raymond Viger) and the profit of a bar/restaurant across the street (Bistro Ste Catherine) generates money to fund the organization. Café Graffiti aims at offering a space where youth can come, hang out, make art and feel safe, while developing professional skills, fighting exclusion and marginalization.

Seanna dropped in to see the renowned organization – Les Impatients. Aside from large meeting/art rooms and gift shop there is a museum that showcases sculptures made by program participants. Here art therapy, hands-on arts activities and incredible art exhibits are all in progress! montreal newsletter photo 7Seanna dropped in at the NDG Seniors Atelier’s weekly workshop founded and run by Nicole Macoretta, a masters student in art therapy at Concordia. This new Art Hive is situated in the rec room on the ground floor of a senior’s residence. This beautiful weekly program works so well because it is accessible to the residents and neighbourhood (the program came to them! rather than residents travelling out to a program); there are no overhead costs, as there is an arrangement with the facility to not charge rent; the facility has given them a secure storage area for art supplies (so that materials don’t need to be carted back and forth every week and so that artwork in progress can be stored). Mostly it works so well because Nicole has created an environment for creativity that is warm, supportive, non-judgemental, joyful and accommodating. Participants are free to work on a new weekly art activity or their own project.

Seanna met with Christie Huff with ELAN – English-Language Arts Network that “connects, supports, and creates opportunities for Québec’s English-speaking artists and arts communities.” ELAN works on expanding access to affordable English language arts activities and workshops. Christie was interested in learning more about ArtBridges and to exchange ideas.

Finally, Catherine met with Karine Lavoie from Cirque Hors Piste. Cirque Hors Piste is a social circus organization. It is the Montréal cell of Cirque du Monde, the social action branch of Cirque du Soleil. Offering marginalized people with an alternative space and creative inclusion, the organization promotes individual, social and collective learning through the circus arts. It provides social circus workshops where outreach workers and circus instructors join forces. Regular sessions, sessions in public spaces, and creations in intensive mode – all aim to support the personal, physical and social development of young people in precarious situations. The overarching goal is to help participants create new relationships with society. It was exciting to learn more about the whole social circus network in Canada!

From left to right: Seanna Connell, Russell Jr Ratt, Mathieu Melançon, Catherine Lamaison and Craig Commanda.

From left to right: Seanna Connell, Russell Jr Ratt, Mathieu Melançon, Catherine Lamaison and Craig Commanda.

Friday, June 24th
Seanna and Catherine met early on St. Jean Baptiste Day morning, left Montréal and drove almost 4 hours north-west to Kitigan Zibi reserve to meet young video artists at the Wapikoni Mobile outreach program. The mobile – an RV equipped with state of the art video equipment was plugged in for the month to an electrical outlet at a rest stop in the community. Matthieu- our host – introduced us to Craig and Russell – young community residents whom had previously made a few 5-minute videos. We sat, talked and watched their videos and learned all about Wapikoni. Wapikoni provides Indigenous youth with equipment, skills and guidance on how to tell something personally meaningful through video. The stories are poignant and deeply moving. Youth are fully part of all the processes of video conception and development and the outcomes are professional quality. The videos are shown around the world. After a couple of hours we high-tailed it back through Ottawa and down the 401 to Toronto, so stimulated from all the amazing people we met and projects we saw and learned about. What a privilege! Thank you community partners in Montréal!!!

-Seanna Connell and Catherine Lamaison

Highlights of ArtBridges’ Site Visits in Montreal 2/3

Last June, ArtBridges/ToiledesArts’s Project Director, Seanna Connell and Francophone Community Arts Coordinator, Catherine Lamaison, spent a week in Montréal to visit and meet 19 community partners and learn about the work that they do on the ground. While most of the ArtBridges/ToiledesArts’ team’s work is done online or over the phone from our Toronto office, getting a chance to travel, see community arts program in action and finally meet partners in person is always highly inspiring and gives all the meaning to our work.

We’ve decided to dedicate a series of three blog posts to the amazing community arts and arts for social change initiatives we’ve discovered in Montréal. Check out yesterday’s post to read about the beginning of our site visits trip!

Wednesday, June 22nd
On our third day we separated in order to visit more community partners. While Seanna explored more art hives (La Ruche St Henri and Le Milieu) and met with Marilyn Lajeunesse, Educational program officer at the Musee des Beaux Arts, Catherine met with Emily Laliberté from Funambules Media and later on with Joel Naggar, intervention coordinator, who gave her a tour of the famous Day Centre for homeless youth Dans La Rue. We met for lunch in the middle–with Esther Filion from Rouage and Seanna ended the day with a meeting with Chad Lubelsky at the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Since 2008 the Funambules Medias Team has worked towards social change by providing marginalized and at-risk populations, mostly youth, with media training and material for them to create, to express themselves and to reflect on systemic causes leading to the criminalization of youth. Funambules Medias also offers production and broadcast services.  Every summer, they organize the Festival de Films Sous les Etoiles, a big outdoor and free film festival in Montréal parks. This event is very popular and features screenings of documentaries related to social change. Finally, they produce various kinds of documentaries and institutional films for organizations driven by social change endeavours.

Collectif Porte-Voix's stunning prevention book "Parcours, Chacun son Temps".

Collectif Porte-Voix’s stunning prevention book “Parcours, Chacun son Temps”.

Musee des Beaux Arts
Seanna met with Marilyn Lajeunesse, Educational program officer at the Musee des Beaux Arts. She had learned about the museum’s progressive community engagement program “Sharing the Museum” at a recent Power of the Arts Forum. Started 15 years ago, this program, supported by the museum’s foundation, collaborates with diverse community partners both outside the museum’s walls with communities and inside the museum’s art studios. Community partnerships include homeless drop-ins, eating-disorder clinics, and refugee centres. Dans la Rue was founded by Father Emmet Johns “Pops” in 1988. This charity organization helps homeless and at-risk-youth, providing care and services related to their immediate needs and to help them acquire skills needed “to lead more autonomous and rewarding lives.” The Day Center offers two artistic spaces running programs on a weekly basis (a visual arts room and a music recording/production room), along with additional drop-in programs led by other community arts organizations such as Cirque Hors Piste.

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La Ruche St Henri’s main room

La Ruche St Henri Art Hive in St. Henri is based in a storefront with a spacious backyard and stellar cellar (a depot for found materials once bound for the landfill and now repurposed for art-making.) Seanna visited with facilitators, Sarah Tevyaw and Nicole Macoretta, during the open studio workshop for seniors. Piano, loom, spinning wheel, books, ink, indigo dye, gardening and pencils…one can get involved with any of the supplies and projects, enjoy a cup of tea and chat with other participants in a relaxed, quiet and warm community studio that inspires creativity, camaraderie and belonging. La Ruche collaborates with neighbouring organizations including a hospital for cancer patients. Outpatient peer-support circles meet here to make art in a setting alternative to hospital. What a great community partnership! (Read more here.) Catherine and Seanna both met with Esther Filion from Engrenage Noir / ROUAGE. “Engrenage Noir, founded in Montréal in 2002, is an non-profit organization. Its program ROUAGE supports activist art practice financially and through training and networking. It aims at partnering with community organizations defending peoples’ rights and their members who share a similar form of oppression or social exclusion in order to see how an activist art project can support their work.”

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Kay (on the right) and her visiting friend at Le Milieu

Seanna then met with Kay Noele at the Le Milieu – Atelier et Café de Quartier, an Art Hive near metro Beaudry. This small corner-store art studio/café has floor-to-ceiling shelves of art supplies open for the community. One person was sewing on a machine, another working on a silk screen, another writing. Delicious cake was ready and coffee was brewing. (Sales pay the rent!) Open for the community for free, this community art studio is run as a co-op with fee-paying members. Anyone can be a member by paying about $50. Members are encouraged to volunteer to keep the doors open for approximately 3-hour periods, teach an art activity, organize supplies or help out at the café. The co-op finds enough volunteers to run this open café & studio every day (7 days a week!) year-round. What every city neighbourhood would benefit from! Kay and the few facilitating the co-op make the work look easy and fluid, but there is an art to making this work so well. Visit and find out!

At the end of a busy day of site visits, Seanna met with Chad Lubelsky, a brilliant Program Director with the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation. This was a chance to thank Chad for the foundation’s support to ArtBridges and to keep the conversation going. The foundation has provided ArtBridges with the means to develop a theory of change, an evaluation framework, impact evaluation, as well as project development and capacity building. Chad loved to hear about our site visits and had some suggestions about other programs to see. We talked about the uniqueness of community arts and arts for social change projects going on in Québec and indeed through all regions in Canada- how projects vary from city to city, region to region, based on language, culture and resources.

Highlights of ArtBridges’ Site Visits in Montreal! 1/3

Last June, ArtBridges/ToiledesArts’s Project Director, Seanna Connell and Francophone Community Arts Coordinator, Catherine Lamaison, spent a week in Montréal to visit and meet 19 community partners and learn about the work that they do on the ground. While most of the ArtBridges/ToiledesArts’ team’s work is done online or over the phone from our Toronto office, getting a chance to travel, see community arts program in action and finally meet partners in person is always highly inspiring and gives all the meaning to our work.

We’ve decided to dedicate a series of 3 blog posts to the amazing community arts and arts for social change initiatives we’ve discovered in Montréal. There is something very particular about that place, and about the work that is made possible there. Seanna and myself have been amazed by the originality and innovation of programs, the variety of organization models, the dedication and drive of mostly volunteer staff, the resources available and the crucial understanding of the importance of community arts and arts for social change. We believe that stories and ideas need to travel more across provinces, and particularly across languages, and that the rest of Canada needs to be more aware of the kinds of projects that are developed in Québec. Here are highlights about each organization we met.

Monday, June 20th  la place commune Our first stop was in the Parc Extension neighbourhood, at a fairly new art hive — part of the Art Hives Network called La Place Commune. Primarily a coffee shop restaurant whose revenues help support the rent and staff, La Place Commune set up an arts corner with supplies that can be used for free. Come for a coffee or just to make art or both, this place is open and the members believe in shared economy. We then headed to Westmount to meet with Ruth Gagnon and her assistant Anne-Celine at Elizabeth Fry Society du Québec. We talked specifically about their art programs and about the Art Entr’Elles collective and its projects. Art Entr’Elles is a non-profit organization gathering criminalized women and professional artists in collaborative projects. Through the making of art, this collective of women support self-esteem building, sense of belonging to a community, critical thinking, socio-political expression and reinsertion to society. Tuesday, June 21st We started our second day in Montreal with a meeting with the Culture Days team in their Mile Ex office. Culture Days is a 3-day event across Canada aiming to get community engagement happening around the arts. This event is particularly important for communities that have little art events on a regular basis. They have provincial chapters that run Culture Days in each province independently. It was particularly interesting for us to have a discussion with another nation-wide organization. Catherine then met with Alyssa Kuzmarov from Productions Oracle near Concordia University campus. Productions Oracle is a bilingual non-profit organization providing at-risk youth and adults with creative modes of expression through writing and video-making workshops. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences through an empowering process of documentary-making while developing social skills and values of respect and tolerance. Productions Oracle also offers production services for social and educational videos as well as promotional and corporate videos.

Liam and Dan, co-founders of Spectrum Productions.

Liam and Dan, co-founders of Spectrum Productions.

We stopped by Spectrum Productions summer camp, in Le Plateau. Working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, Spectrum Productions is a community-based non-profit organization that provides “social, creative, exploratory and employment opportunities” through workshops, summer camps and various programs focusing on film and media production. Most of the programs are run in their own space part of an arts building in Le Plateau, with multiple rooms and professional video equipment. At the end of a day of site visits we were so happy to finally meet Jacinthe Laforte for the first time! Jacinthe has been translating ArtBridges/ToileDesArts content from English to French since 2011 remotely. She was originally referred to ArtBridges by Engrenage Noir / ROUAGE. What a delight to finally meet in person after 5 years and enjoy a glass of wine together! Don’t miss the rest of our site visits highlights in Montréal in tomorrow’s blog post!

Jacinthe Laforte and Seanna Connell. from ArtBridges

Jacinthe Laforte and Seanna Connell. from ArtBridges

Métissages Urbains : Un Projet D’Exeko qui fleurit le Quartier des Spectacles à Montréal

exeko-metissages-logo “Métissages Urbains accueille des artistes en résidence dans notre espace commun : la rue. Les œuvres co-créées avec les passants créent un lieu d’échanges et de rencontres improbables entre tous les citoyens. Chaque projet stimule notre créativité, nous invite à apprendre et à confronter nos idées!”

Rendez-vous au parterre du Quartier des spectacles les 17 et 18 septembre et découvrez le champ de 1000 roses initié par Alexandra Pastena et confectionné en refuges, dans la rue, en centre d’accueil, en espace de coworking, dans les cafés… Une véritable ovation à la féminité et un hommage aux femmes autochtones disparues.

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Les autres artistes et projets de la 2ème saison de Métissages Urbains :

Guillaume Vermette avec Le chemin le plus court, comme le disait Chaplin en parlant du rire. L‘artiste, clown dans la vie, va inviter les citoyens à partager un fou rire. Le tout filmé, sera diffusé style vidéo virale sur les internets.

Patsy Van Roost avec Hommage sur trottoir. Un projet poétique qui permet aux citoyens partageant le même quartier de se rendre hommage mutuellement et individuellement. À l’aide de pochoirs, d’une bombe à la craie et de quelques mots doux, la tendresse sera ainsi cultivée sur les trottoirs de l’arrondissement dans lequel on regarde davantage ses pieds que ses voisins.

Un aperçu des programmes des saisons précédentes:

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.35.25 PMPORTRAITS DE RUE (Novembre 2015)

Résidence artistique entre la talentueuse artiste illustratrice française Lili Sohn, et les citoyens de Ville-Marie incluant ceux vivant dans la rue, en refuges et centre de jour, Portraits de Rue se veut une collaboration créative et inclusive entre tous les citoyens qui donnera lieu à des planches et dessins à l’effigie des rencontres créées au fil des rues, mais surtout un aperçu de tranches de vie que l’on écoute pas suffisamment, des histoires et des identités en images qui changeront peut-être un peu notre regard sur ceux que l’on ignore trop souvent.

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“Même qu’on se dit souvent qu’on aura une maison, avec des tas de fenêtres, avec presque pas de murs, et qu’on vivra dedans, et qu’il fera bon y être, et que si c’est pas sûr, c’est quand même peut-être” chantait Jacques Brel. Chez soi idéal, c’est un peu ça. Imaginé par deux architectes professionnelles, Suzanne Doucet et Colleen Lashuk, c’est avant tout l’idée selon laquelle chacun a le droit de laisser voguer son imaginaire et de rêver à sa maison, à son tipi, à son igloo, à son refuge… Les idées et dessins de son “home” parfait sont ensuite transformés en maquette par les participants.”

Pour en savoir plus, cliquez ici

Source : Texte et credit photo: Exeko
Lire le profil d’Exeko dans notre répertoire et carte de l’art communautaire au Canada

Parcours, Chacun Son Temps: un Regard sur les Causes Systémiques Liées à la Judiciarisation

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Parcous, Chacun son Temps est le dernier projet en date du collectif Porte-Voix des Productions Funambules Médias.

Il s’agit d’un recueil littéraire abordant les récits de vie d’adolescents hébergés en garde fermée au centre jeunesse de Montréal – Site Cité des Prairies. Le Collectif Porte-Voix, qui existe depuis 2012, a publié ce recueil en Mars dernier. Il vise à sensibiliser les éducateurs.trices, les décideurs publics et le grand public aux causes systémiques liées à la judiciarisation, comme l’explique Emily Laliberté, coordinatrice du projet:

«Il me semble qu’à la lecture des textes que contient ce livre, il devient impossible de nier les rapports de causes à effets entre les différents facteurs socioéconomiques perpétuant les cycles de la délinquance. Je crois que socialement, nous nous questionnons souvent à savoir quelle est la meilleure façon de «protéger» la société, soit par des mesures coercitives, soit par la réhabilitation, mais qu’il manque une réelle volonté politique d’éviter la délinquance en réglant les inégalités sociales à leur base. Je pense que nous devons comme société nous intéresser à la question de la judiciarisation de la pauvreté de même qu’à la surreprésentation de jeunes issus de communautés ethniques spécifiques dans nos institutions. Offrir de meilleures perspectives d’avenir aux jeunes issus des quartiers pauvres, mettre sur pied des plans d’action concrets pour mettre fin au profilage raciale et au racisme sous toutes ces formes et soutenir les familles en difficulté me semblerait un meilleur «investissement» pour la «protection» durables des communautés.»
Emily, Funambules Medias.

Le Projet

“Issu d’une démarche d’art communautaire militant soutenu par Engrenage noir / Rouage et par la Fondation Béati, Parcours, chacun son temps avait pour objectif d’offrir un espace de prise de parole libre et ouvert aux jeunes judiciarisés afin qu’ils puissent s’exprimer sur des enjeux sociopolitiques les touchant de près.
[…]
Suivant un processus de création rigoureux, ces jeunes se sont investis dans la réalisation d’un ouvrage structuré et accrocheur dont les propos exprimés librement et sans restrictions, nous offre de riches perspectives sur les réalités entourant la judiciarisation juvénile. La pauvreté, le racisme et la violence qui ont marqués leurs routes et dont témoigne chacun de leur texte, forcent le lecteur à se questionner sur les enjeux complexes derrière la criminalisation des adolescents.

Le livre qui se présente comme un parcours, du d’où l’on vient au où l’on peut aller, est composé de récits, de poèmes, de chansons, de témoignages et d’entrevues abordant les récits de vie des participants.”

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Découvrez un aperçu du contenu du recueil

Pour en savoir plus sur le projet et sur les Productions Funambules Médias, cliquez ici
Pour vos procurer le livre, communiquez avec Emily Laliberté, coordonatrice du projet à : elaliberte@funambulesmedias.org

-source : Funambules Médias
Lire le profil des Productions Funambules Médias dans le répertoire de l’art communautaire d’ArtBridges/ToileDesArts