DAREarts Blog

Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

Nee-tum-ochi-bek. First Roots and Sustainability

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“Because DAREarts always come back.”
DAREarts Nee-tum-ochi-bek student (photo Alan Syliboy)

The convergence of different art disciplines, artist, teachers and community members has a huge impact on the participants.  Not only is there a creative energy that pulls in all of the students, but there is a whole new set of challenges and opportunities that is presented to the DAREartist/teachers.

There is a honing that is going on as we travel from one school, province, First Nation to another.  Because the students and their communities are teaching us so much, we are changing our approaches as we go along.  We never know, with the distance in which we travel, what kinds of challenges we will face.  Flight and school cancellations due to weather, funerals which shut down the entire community, equipment and materials being left behind due to small plane weight restrictions.  We jump sideways, and when we ask for advice and help from the teachers and elders, we come up with innovative ways to use our art.  This, in turn makes us all stronger, more patient, more inventive.

The short-term impact on DAREarts First Roots Aboriginal Program is immense.  The opportunity to reach out to Canadian Aboriginal communities for advice allows us to develop some of those teaching and art techniques for the mainstream DAREarts programs.  There is, in the process, a Bridging Mechanism being developed between the Aboriginal arts community and the Mainstream Education community.  This is particularly exciting because we’re finding that our approach is working. These communities are still in a state of flux.  Art heals.  Art empowers.  We are, more than ever, convinced of this.

This is a letter that Glenn Marais, talented and prolific Juno nominated singer, songwriter, philanthropist, teacher and friend wrote as part of his frustration over the idea that some successful projects are doing just fine and don’t need the same kind of support they received on the onset.  His ongoing championing of artistic and educational support for kids and youth has made a difference, certainly to DAREarts. -Cathy Elliott

Lyrics from “Spirit of the North”
Arts programs have a trans-formative effect on participants and communities.

Glenn Marais, DAREarts Artist

In the far north, native youth live a life of desolation, isolation and despair amidst the pristine beauty of the far north. Theirs is a life with few job prospects, high levels of substance abuse and parental neglect born from the horrific abuses of the residential school system.  

A vast difference in educational funding for students on reserves compared to students in the public school system and governmental neglect of home and property combine to create a perfect storm for depression, abuse and one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the world.

Through the arts they can examine their inner selves and with the guidance of professional artists and their Elders, they can express these feelings externally.  It can literally be a trans-formative and life saving experience.

However, it can take years for a damaged spirit to learn to trust and come out of the darkness of a shattered youth and a fractured community.  It is only through repeated visits and enduring faith and investment in these communities that students who are incredibly shy and lacking in self-esteem, find the nerve and level of acceptance to open up and begin to heal.  DAREarts believes, inspires and challenges students to become leaders and take responsibility for themselves. The artists and teachers lead by example and commitment over a long period of time. DAREarts has been working with Webequie FN for six years as well as Marten Falls, Attawapiskat, Indian Brook FN…

Work-shopping a new song “Courage” Indian Brook Shubenacadia FN,  N.S.

Healing the north and finding a path for First Nations begins with the youth and an investment in time and resources. This will only work if the communities and youth believe that the programs and artists are committed to them over the long term and not part of a one time experience to be forgotten during the long months on the reserve.  The youth of the north need something to look forward to and the Arts is an investment in hope that will last forever.
DARE arts works in partnership with teachers and communities to offer art based leadership training to youth that helps them to see the strength within and gives youth the confidence to share this strength with their peers and society.

When DAREarts visits the  communities, they tell us the reason for their trust is that “DAREarts always comes back”.

Please help us to answer their call

Glenn Marais

For press information please contact Director of Communications and Lead Artist/Teacher, Cathy Elliott

“Fill My Hollow Bones” Trailer about DAREarts’ pilot project in Webequie
“Swimming in a Fast Current” song by Ogoki Post students
“Zero to Hero” short feature film by students in Sioux Lookout
“Goose Call” song by students from Attawapiskat
“Courage” song by students from Indian Brook, Shubenacadie, N.S. 
“Find Our Way Home” song by students from Ogoki Post & Glenn Marais

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