“On National Aboriginal Day, a group of youths from Vezina High School in Attawapiskat First Nation reclaimed their voice by releasing an original music video. Called Walking for Peace, the work addresses, in clear yet powerful language, the youths’ frustration with the ongoing suicide crisis in their community. While the media coverage has been extensive and many experts have visited, the youth feel as though their concerns haven’t been heard. Through this music, they are speaking directly to their community, as well as all of Canada, about their experiences, feelings and hopes.
DAREarts, a national charity that empowers at-risk youth using the arts, facilitated the production during a two week workshop upon request from the community and officials at Vezina High School, including teacher Mandy Alves. The organization, which has previously worked in Attawapiskat providing song writing and videography workshops, assembled a team of leaders in music, videography and education, and arranged for their transportation and accommodation. During the first week, Juno-nominated musician and artist-educator Glenn Marais led a song-writing and recording workshop. Indigenous artist-educator Cathy Elliott and DAREarts Lead Teacher Shelley MacDonald taught the youths how to direct and edit the video during the following week. MacDonald is also a teacher with The Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through the Arts program, an affiliate organization whose support as Education Partner was critical for the project. Financial supporters include: Palgrave Rotary Club, Thunder Air, the Paul Semple Scholarship Fund, Sarah Haney, and Aeroplan donors (notably Hans Koehle, Maria Da Cunha, Cheryl Vhal and Victor Ford).”
Visit DAREarts’ blog for daily entries documenting their time in Attawapiskat First Nation and the DAREarts YouTube channel to see more videos of DAREarts work empowering at-risk kids using the arts. Chi miigwetch to DAREarts founder, Marilyn Field, and everyone on the DAREarts team!