DAREarts Blog

Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

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DAREarts Montreal Youth Take Action: DAREing to Dream Like Chagall

For eight weeks in Montreal, teens from Vezina, Perspectives and JFK high schools have been gathering for weekly after-school DAREarts workshops  at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), culminating in a Public Showcase on Sunday, June 11th, 2 pm. Alongside DAREarts Montreal Lead Teacher & Coordinator Deirdre Potash, Teaching Assistant Sebastien Haimet, MMFA Teacher Jacinthe Otis, Beatboxer Malcolm Humes, Spoken Word Artist Why’z Panthera,  and photographer and videographer Emanuele Setticasi, the teens have created together to become empowered young leaders.

Adapted from reports by Teaching Assistant Sebastien Haimet:
Day One:  At the MMFA, Jacinthe toured the DAREarts group through graffiti murals created by artist collective En Masse. Each teen sketched out symbols they saw that resonated with them. Shane shared with his peers, “Art doesn’t always have to be beautiful in the normal sense; sometimes its ugliness makes it beautiful.”  Later in the studio, the teens created their own symbols in plastercine.

Day Two: In their opening circle, the youths discussed the DAREarts value of ‘Discipline’ and how it applies to leadership. The teens talked insightfully about how respect and self-control can help them be excellent!  The MMFA’s Jacinthe then treated the teens to a tour through the special Chagall exhibit, where they explored how he created rhythm and movement in his paintings. The teens were fascinated by the ballet costumes and stained glass works. Matteus shared that he was so impressed that he wanted to see the ballet himself! Returning to the studio, the teens learned a printmaking process and created their own prints.

Day Three: The teens explored the MMFA’s contemporary collection, exploring through art the narrative of oppression faced by First Nations people. Spoken word artist Why’z Panthera inspired the teens to write short poems. Everyone was in awe of the quality of each poem. Taisha’s fearless presentation on her first DAREarts Day, and Vito’s beautifully complex writing. In the closing circle, Ariel shared that spoken word had given her a new way to express herself. All the participants said they plan on sharing this experience with friends, classmates and family.

Day Four: In their opening circle, the teens discussed how they had shared their slam poetry outside of the circle and how they can further share.  In a new wing of the MMFA, they encountered Jacinthe’s favourite self-portraits, including JM Basquiat and Joseph Beuys, revealing the many unorthodox ways that artists can portray themselves.  In the studio, beatboxer Malcolm shared the history of beatboxing and taught a few foundational sounds. Everyone gave it their all, despite an “embarrassing” sound or two!

Day Five: The teens discovered the MMFA’s new pavilion of Impressionist landscapes. Vito, a returning DAREarts teen, shared that even though he did not find the pieces appealing, he appreciated how the paintings were like photographs imbued with emotions.  At the studio, Deirdre taught the teens how to create art by embossing metal sheets.  By the end of the session, the teens shared that they felt DAREarts was a haven to get away from the stresses of regular life.

Day Six: The teens completed the first stage of their photo transfer pieces, ensuring that they covered for anyone who was absent. Then the teens started combining their spoken word pieces with beatboxing, with Why’z and Malcolm’s help.  With the showcase just a few weeks away, the teens started to see how their final creations would look and sound.  During breaks, many opened up and shared their life experiences and the challenges they face.

Day Seven: Deirdre welcomed the teens to the studio with homemade pizza and Banana bread!  While creating their photo transfer artwork, the teens’ discussions ranged from music to politics. It was clear how comfortable they had become around each other and our teaching team.  By the end of the session, many of the teens had come out of their bubble of shyness, which we hope they will continue to do both at DAREarts and in their everyday lives.

Day Eight: With their public showcase just around the corner, the teens all worked hard to finish up their varied artworks for Sunday’s display. I wish you could witness the ambience; the sound of relaxation, creativity all taking place in a safe environment.

DAREarts is grateful to all its supporters including National Supporter: Northbridge Insurance; Lead Supporters: Anne Livingston, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Education Partner: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

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DAREarts Toronto Spring Gr. 8 Grads: My Identity is… Success!

On Wednesday, May 31st, the Bata Shoe Museum generously hosted the DAREarts Toronto Spring grade 8 class graduation celebration. Over 8 weeks of DAREarts Days, 27 Grade 8 delegates had explored identity and leadership through music, drama, dance, literature and visual art.

Laura MacKinnon, DAREarts Lead Teacher, welcomed the audience of families, teachers, DAREarts supporters and community leaders.  Annie Appleby, TDSB Central Superintendent & DAREarts Director, spoke on behalf of the TDSB. The class then began their presentation: two spoken word poems they created with SPIN El Poeta at DAIS, two drama pieces created with Little Black Afro Theatre, a short film created at TIFF, a dance learned with Fly Lady Di, and a song they wrote with Sheldon De Souza.  Self-portraits they painted with youth artist Ricky Schaede vibrantly reflected their identities on the walls.

Each DAREarts graduate received a medallion.  The William Stevenson Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by Emmy-award winning producer Monika Jensen-Stevenson, went to Valerie, whose poetry showed that, despite her shy demeanour, she has a strong voice. The James Westcott Award, presented by DAREarts supporter Nancy Westcott, went to Ezra, whose positivity and humour inspired the entire class.  The Crichton Community Leadership Award, presented by retired principal and DAREarts supporter Eileen Crichton, went to DAREarts graduate and volunteer extraordinaire Dante Scholar to help him further his paralegal studies.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Sheila Knox, Head of Education & Programming for the Bata Shoe Museum, for making this evening possible. We also thank our young volunteers Iris Benedikt, Elijah Brown, Alan Dunlop, Kiranpreet Kaur Bhangu, Patrik Montelibano, and Dante Scholar.

Over 150 students from 26 schools spanning Toronto’s downtown core to east Scarborough attended the spring program as DAREarts “delegates”.  They were empowered with the job of going back to their respective schools after each DAREarts Day to peer-teach their classmates what they had learned.

Toronto participating schools this spring were: Brock PS, Cedarbrook PS, Chine Drive PS, Corvette JS, Cosburn MS, Earl Haig PS, Eastview PS, Equinox Holistic Alternative, Fairbank Memorial CS, George Webster ES, Gordon A. Brown MS, Jesse Ketchum PS, Joseph Brant PS, Niagara Street JPS, Pauline JPS, Queen Victoria PS, RH McGregor ES, Regent Heights PS, Roden PS, Samuel Hearne MS, Sloane PS, St. Andrew’s PS, Westwood MS, Willow Park JS & Winchester PS.

DAREarts thanks its supporters including National Supporter: Northbridge Insurance; Lead Supporters: Anne Livingston, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario; Education Partner: the TDSB; Grade 8 Class Sponsor: Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Photos courtesy of volunteer photographer Alan Dunlop.

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DAREarts Toronto Spring Students Showcase Leadership

DAREarts Toronto Spring Grade 4s

The 2017 DAREarts Toronto Spring program for kids from 26 schools concluded with 150 young leaders. On each grade’s final DAREarts Day, they held a showcase for their families.  These intimate gatherings gave each child a platform to say what DAREarts meant to them.  They then shared their creativity and knowledge learned from their series of arts workshops.

The DAREarts Grade 4s shared a drama inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream created with Jamie Robinson, a Voyage Song created with Ciara Adams, and an Afro-Caribbean dance learned from Tereka Tyler-Davis. They displayed watercolour self-portraits created with Ilana Van Zyl plus Japanese calligraphy created at the JCCC.

DAREarts Toronto Spring Grade 5s

The DAREarts Grade 5s shared a Bharatanatyam Indian dance learned from Suma Nair of Sampradaya Dance Creations, a Baroque dance learned from Jeannette Zingg of Opera Atelier, a song to Handel’s Messiah created with Sarah Hicks, and a Commedia dell’arte drama created with Jamie Robinson. They displayed Chiaroscuro still-life block prints, plus ornate clay shoes created at the Gardiner Museum with inspiration from the Bata Shoe Museum’s galleries.

DAREarts Toronto Spring Grade 6s

The DAREarts Grade 6s demonstrated stage combat learned from Erick Fournier and Louisa Zhu, dramatic insults from Cyrano de Bergerac, a ballet created with Hannah Mae Cruddas of Ballet Jorgen, and a gargoyle opera created with Cathy Nosaty and Alix Sideris. They displayed Impressionist-inspired landscapes created with Sann Sann Lam, plus clay gargoyles created at the Gardiner Museum inspired by Casa Loma.

The DAREarts Grade 7s shared an Afro-Contemporary dance learned from Tereka Tyler-Davis, West African-inspired drumming they learned from Rufus Glassco of Rhythm Kingdom, a fashion show of 20th Century-inspired fashions they sewed with Lise Godel, and Blues lyrics they wrote with Jazz.FM91’s David Wall, Rob Christian, Lucian Gray, and John Mavrogiannis. They displayed mixed-media pieces created with Gloria Hope.

DAREarts Toronto Spring Grade 7s

The DAREarts Grade 8s held a special graduation celebration at the Bata Shoe Museum. Read about their evening here.

We thank our youth mentors: Iris Benedikt, Kiranpreet Kaur Bhangu and Dante Scholar. We also thank volunteers Bonnie Masina and Riina Muzaffar and especially our volunteer photographer, Alan Dunlop.

DAREarts appreciates its supporters including National Supporter: Northbridge Insurance; Lead Supporters: Anne Livingston, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario; Education Partner: the TDSB; Grade 8 Class Sponsor: Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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DAREarts Leadership Awards 2017: Inspiring Strong Identities & Building a Better Future

The 2017 DAREarts Leadership Awards was a remarkable evening at The Carlu, co-hosted by Jeanne Beker CM and CBC Radio’s Piya Chattopadhyay, that raised $380,000 for DAREarts’ work with at-risk kids across Canada.

Her Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, inspired all of our guests, volunteers and youths with her presence and conversation.

This year’s 2017 DAREarts Cultural Award honoree, Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival, spoke brilliantly about Identity in Canada’s 150th birthday year and the Stratford – DAREarts partnership.  Mr. Cimolino stated, “It’s inspiring to see the impact of the arts on young imaginations. They help young people feel less isolated and more empowered. DAREarts gives us all hope for the future.”

The elegant decor was thanks to Sinclair Russell and Seneca College Visual Merchandising students.  Guests were greeted by young DAREarts graduates from Rexdale, thanks to Stock Transportation.  A dozen DAREarts youth alumni donned costumes from Stratford Festival’s world-class wardrobes, conversing with guests with Shakespearean panache.

Twelve-year-old singer Zander Marks wowed the 500 guests with his singing of ‘O Canada’. Elder Garry Sault of Mississaugas of New Credit FN conducted an opening prayer.  Performers honoured both Indigenous and Shakespearean creativity.

Left to Right: DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field, Mark LeBlanc of Northbridge, Patrik Montelibano, Yanzhi Chen of Scotiabank, Jaiden Downey, Jack Linklater Jr. & Tarik Muzaffar of TD Bank

The young 2017 Leadership Award awardees, introduced by their sponsor hosts, bravely took to the stage to share their stories of DAREarts helping to overcome challenges including physical and mental abuse, racism, sexism, losing a home to fire, bullying and depression.  Awardees were: Ivan Patrik Montelibano of Etobicoke presented by Northbridge Insurance; Jaiden Downey of Toronto presented by Scotiabank; Jack Linklater Jr. of Attawapiskat FN presented by TD Bank; Eric Shewaybick of Webequie FN presented by Noront Resources; Samira Henry of Etobicoke presented by Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Kiranpreet Kaur Bhangu of Etobicoke presented by Guy Carpenter; and Patina Prize recipient Elijah Brown of Scarborough. They truly enabled the guests to understand the power of the arts to save lives, and that their support ensures all our country’s children will flourish with DAREarts programs led by fine teachers and arts professionals.

Left to Right: Derek & Judy Patina, Elijah Brown, Eric Shewaybick, Kaitlyn Ferris of Noront Resources, Samira Henry & Maureen Jarvis of Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Mike Downie, accepting our Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his brother Gord Downie, was motivating as a new friend for DAREarts and our work towards reconciliation. The gala featured a Downie Wenjack Legacy Room for all guests to visit, which displayed artwork and videography by northern DAREarts Indigenous youths.  Conceived by the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief & DAREarts Director, Morley Googoo, everyone is invited to set up their own Legacy Room as a place to learn and share about Indigenous people of Canada so we can all work toward reconciliation.

A special thank you to those 43 guests who raised their hand to sponsor a DAREarts child.

A resounding thanks to all our guests, donors and volunteers for making such a triumphant night – all for the children.

DAREarts is grateful to its National Presenting Supporter, Northbridge Insurance and its Lead Supporters: Scotiabank, TD, Anne Livingston and The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Gold supporters are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Guy Carpenter and Noront Resources.

We appreciate In-kind donations from Air Creebec, The Carlu, Freeman Audio Visual, daCunha Voyages, Seneca College, Stock Transportation as well as auction donors. Media supporters are CBCClassical 96.3 FM, Globe and Mail and JazzFM91.1.

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DAREarts and Junior Rangers: Spirit of the North

Written by DAREarts Artist-Educator, Glenn Marais.
We are guided by our own inner wisdom and our values system that is our inner compass. Our greatest guide is our heart and that pure wisdom that has grown fertile in our souls from birth. We may have been blessed by good education and mentors and, in this recognition, understand that others have not shared the same bounty.

It was a stormy night and we had a long way to go, but for DAREarts founder, Marilyn Field, and myself, DAREarts artist Glenn Marais, it wasn’t a question of if – only when and how. We were on our way into a forecast of 90 KM hour winds, thunderstorms and possible hailstorms. Our destination: Meaford, ON to speak to a group of Junior Rangers, First Nations youth from all over northern Ontario. Outside of Stayner, it hit us hard: wind so strong the rains were sideways, hail so loud on my van we couldn’t talk over it.  Lightning flashed around us and we held on, drove slow with faith that it would blow over and we would be okay.  It did and we made it to a roomful of hope:  eager, resilient, ambitious, young men and women, training to make a difference in their community.

Marilyn told me we were going for a reason.  I believe wholeheartedly in this philosophy.  It’s a DAREarts philosophy. You show up with an open heart and mind and you embrace the possible in impossible situations.  For these First Nations youth, nothing in life is easy and people let them down all the time. We need to show up. We need to reach out. We need to understand that these young people have had their culture taken away and they are rebuilding their cultural legacy for their own children. That is powerful.

Marilyn was right; something magical happened. We sang ‘Spirit of the North’; a song written in honor of Jordan Wabasse, a youth from Webequie who died tragically young at the age of 15 while attending school in Thunder Bay. They asked us to sing it again and again and again and again. Each time they joined in with more confidence and their voices rose as one. They sensed the power and beauty of this song. Because it is their song:

“I want to see myself, proud,
I want to see myself strong,
I want to be who I am,
I’ve had enough of being wrong.
Love can make you do anything.”

Indeed it can and we love our youth like they are our own, because that is how we see them. As family. It resonated in the room tonight and we left as one people who shared something bigger than ourselves, love.

As we prepared to leave, a young man named Jaren approached me and told me of his grandmother who was in a Residential School. He said, “They took away everything from her.” He thanked me and said that I had changed him. That he believed he could get back what they had lost. In my years of working in the north and with the thousands of students I have had the privilege of working with, this has been the most humbling and beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. Jaren, you have strengthened my resolve and giving me a great gift. I am eternally grateful. From this storm we emerged into a beautiful sky, burning red, streaked with black clouds, as if hope had burned through and shone its glorious light on us all.

Meegwitch my new friends, we will see you again.

DAREarts 1-888-540-2787 | info@darearts.com

DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD Bank Groupand the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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Volunteer Appreciation Week: Spotlight on Bonnie Masina

DAREarts’ Volunteer Coordinator Bonnie Masina learns to fence with the kids on DAREarts Drama Day! Photo by Alan Dunlop.

In this day and age, every charity is thankful for each and every volunteer and every task they complete! But, it is a rarity when a charity can applaud the fact that they have a Volunteer “Volunteer Coordinator”, and DAREarts is one such fortunate charity!

Giving back and developing community isn’t a learned behaviour, it is ingrained in Bonnie Masina’s DNA – she has always been committed to a greater good for others.  A proud mom of 3, excitedly anticipating the arrival of her first grandchild, while also being a primary caregiver for her mother-in-law, Bonnie still finds the time to be a role model for change.

As a proud volunteer for DAREarts, she joined the team about 18 months ago. She has always had a coach approach to how she interacts with kids, as she coached girls’ soccer leagues for a number of years. She has always understood that, “it’s tough for kids to grow up these days.”

When she joined DAREarts, she knew that it’s “all about the kids, giving them the opportunity to believe they have worth and are capable of so much.” As an analyst in the IT sector, she learned that a lot of the time it’s the behaviours you don’t see that are the best indicators of the challenges someone faces.

She has a calm nurturing approach to interacting with the kids, whether at a DAREarts Program Showcase finale, or working with the DAREarts grads as they return as volunteers. You can see and feel the respect that she gives the kids, and they in turn give it back to her.  Accountability and respect raise the conversations to a level of equality that reinforces the expectations for all.

Weekly Bonnie works in the DAREarts office to track the contributions of all the volunteers that support the breadth of programs we offer. On the best of days, she is able to join a program day or a showcase, where we all get to see the impact of the DARE values: Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence.

And what does Bonnie get back from this work? “It’s a meaningful, impactful opportunity for kids, giving them a place to belong, for them to be a part of something bigger. I get to see our graduates come back and give back to the next generation of kids – and that is amazing! My hope for DAREarts’ future is that one day, our staff are all DAREarts grads, our Board is filled with DAREarts grads, finding their way as our future leaders. That vision, the impact and the kids fulfills me.”

We at DAREarts are truly grateful to have such a wonderful mentor and role model, for our kids, for our volunteers, and for our community. Thank you!

DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD Bank Groupand the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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How Marilyn Field Grew a Top Canadian Charity on a Shoestring Budget

Written by Monika Jensen-Stevenson, Emmy Award winning producer, bestselling author, and DAREarts Director.

“DARE to be Disciplined, take Action, be Responsible and strive for Excellence.” – Marilyn Field, founder DAREarts

For many of us, start-ups are the catch word of the day and no one is more admired than the man or woman who creates an Uber, an Airbnb or Snapchat – companies that earn billions for their founders,  create jobs and add to the well-being of the economy.   But there is another kind of start-up which does not earn billions for its creator and yet has an enormous impact on people’s lives.

DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field, Monika Jensen-Stevenson, Councillor Michael Ford, and TDSB Associate Director Christopher Usih with the DAREarts Grade 8s

For almost twenty years, I have observed the progress of such a start-up, the DAREarts Foundation. Just recently I had the enormous pleasure of participating in its twenty year anniversary which celebrated the success of some 200,000 young people who, over 20 years, used what they learned at DAREarts to fulfill their potential.  Of those kids, very few have failed. Certainly not the young man who had trouble coping when he joined DAREarts as a young immigrant from Ghana. Newly graduated, today he is a practicing optician. Neither the 14 year old who stood his ground against an armed gang on his street, using the confidence he had gained at DAREarts to escape. Still in his twenties, he is today Director of Operations for DECIEM Inc., a multi-million start-up cosmetics company.  He is also DAREarts’ youngest board member.  In the 20 years of its existence, in their careers, personal life and contribution to their communities, DAREarts graduates are successful and happy; most attribute a large part of that to their involvement with DAREarts. Like Liz Ward, homeless at 12 and now in university, who says “DAREarts saved my life.”

The DAREarts Foundation started with exactly zero dollars and is now helping annually 10,000 kids in challenging environments to reach the potential that was in them.  The foundation’s income for fiscal year 2016 was $713,537 – not nearly enough to include the long list of kids who are waiting to join, but a significant accomplishment in today’s tight giving environment.  Only four per cent of that comes from the government.  The largest amount comes from corporations and individuals. These figures do not take into account the value of the hundreds of volunteers which alone is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field & Grade 5 Rexdale-area Delegates

It also does not take into account the enormous accomplishment of the organization’s founder, Marilyn Field, a former teacher who knew that an organization like DAREarts was needed from the time she taught in inner city schools.  There, during detention classes, she realized that the arts could make a significant difference in the lives of children who had no coping or life skills because of their difficult social environment. Instead of forcing them to write promises to do better one hundred times, she got them involved in the subject she knew best: classical music. She says, “They particularly liked Pachelbel’s Canon, keeping a volleyball in the air while the music played. It just worked!” During one incident, two boys got in a schoolyard fight over Mozart, she says. Soon students were lined up before school to join her classes.  She remembers one particularly enthusiastic boy who showed up very early.  He was barefoot. It was winter.

Just as many of Ms. Field’s counterparts in commercial start-ups do, when she could not raise enough money to get started she used her own. She was on leave from teaching.  Money was tight. She says there was only one option, “so I re-mortgaged my house.  That got us started.” She rented space, hired artists to do planned workshops with the kids. Almost immediately, though, she had to look for more money.  A friend who sat on the Esprit Orchestra Board with her introduced her to the head of a corporation who contributed $25,000 as the first serious donation. Soon, more friends stepped up. The battle for funding has been on-going ever since.

Deputy Mayor Vincent Crisanti, Marilyn Field, Monika Jensen-Stevenson, Councillor Michael Ford, and TDSB Associate Director Christopher Usih with the DAREarts Grade 8s at NACI on March 2nd

DARE is the acronym for Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence – the approach by which the 4th through 8th graders, chosen by their schools, can use the talents within themselves to advance their own lives and their communities in Vancouver, Toronto, remote Indigenous communities like Marten Falls FN, Webequie FN and Attawapiskat FN, Montreal and Halifax.  The tool used to bring this about is an intensive arts education program (ten days over ten weeks) that includes diverse arts experiences from a Q&A at Stratford with Oscar winner Christopher Plummer to workshops on the Renaissance, Jazz, architecture, fashion, literature, dance, music and much more. By going back to their schools and teaching their peers what they have learned in DAREarts, students become self-confident and develop leadership skills. The kids say, “You saved my life.”

At the DAREarts winter showcase held on March 2nd, 2017 at the North Albion Collegiate Institute in Rexdale, kids from all grades showed off their newly learned skills. A group of truly multicultural grade fours wrote and performed their ten-stanza song about the Silk Road called Voyage. Below are excerpts.

….Mapping the world
And changing the globe.

From England to Asia
Collecting as I go
Selling and trading
That’s how I earn my dough!

Trading spices East to West
World discovery, no more rest
Learning new languages throughout the globe
That’s what happened along the Silk Road.

Not bad for fourth graders who had begun their one-day-a-week classes only ten weeks before! Now they performed with confidence, expressing all they had learned about Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence.  The audience which included Toronto Deputy Mayor Vincent Crisanti, Councillor Michael Ford and Toronto District School Board Associate Director Chris Usih, was impressed.

Before they start DAREarts, many kids lack self-esteem or confidence.  One eighth grader was so unsure of himself he hid in the bathroom on the first day of classes. At the final showcase, he was the star of an exuberant hip hop performance.

African drumming, a take-off on Commedia del’arte, a blues performance are just some of presentations that entertained the audience.  The showcase ended with a powerful song, ‘Spirit of the North’, written by the kids in Webequie FN and sung as a ‘musical handshake’ by the kids in Toronto.

DAREarts Toronto children sing “Spirit of the North”, a musical handshake with our northern First Nations youth.

Lest anyone think that DAREarts’ work with FN kids in the north is the usual Canadian dead-end run around of some well-connected person getting government funding for a one-time project which leaves Indigenous kids still feeling abandoned once again, they should know this.  An Elder from Webequie approached Ms. Field during a Canadian Forces event. He told her about his teenage daughter who had committed suicide two years before and a teen who had recently hanged himself in the doorway of their community centre.  He said, “Marilyn, please come.”  Against opposition from her own foundation board who did not want to dilute scarce monies already attributed to other DAREarts programs, Ms. Field went, paying her own way and that of three other artists-as-teachers.

“That was a request for life,” she says.  “Not responding was not an option.”

When she returned from that first week of workshops in the north, she got to work finding designated funding from a company that shared her interest in Webequie.  Noront Resources responded with a $40,000 donation so that the youth of Webequie could create their own film telling their community’s story.  The documentary is now being considered for a CBC program as well as by other networks.

Ms. Field says, “We need to find other northern supporters like Noront and national supporters like Northbridge Insurance for all our programs.” Thousands of kids and their schools are waiting to participate in DAREarts.  With the help of generous corporations and individuals and its track record, DAREarts can lift more kids to be all that they can be.

To help a child, call Brenda at 905-729-0097 or visit www.darearts.com.

Monika Jensen-Stevenson is a former Emmy award winning producer for Sixty Minutes and bestselling author.  She is currently chief correspondent on a documentary about the legacy of the war in Vietnam.

Photos courtesy Alan Dunlop.