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Attawapiskat Youths and DAREarts Release Empowering Music Video

/ -- ATTAWAPISKAT, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 06/21/16 -- Editors Note: There are two photos associated with this Press Release.

On National Aboriginal Day, a group of youths from Vezina High School in Attawapiskat First Nation is reclaiming 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.

Below is an excerpt of the lyrics:

Take a look at the media, but not everything is as it seems

You see crisis after crisis, but you don't see what we see

In this community we are fighting for equality and peace

Increase, decrease, deceased, something here needs to be done

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).

The music video was first presented to the community during a community celebration and feast last Friday night. It will later be presented to Senator Murray Sinclair, who won a DAREarts Cultural Award earlier this year, and Prime Minster Justin Trudeau. The music video is now available on DAREarts YouTube at this link:

After finishing the music video, a number of the youths reflected on the process. Karis Linklater, age 20, Attawapiskat Youth Committee, said: "The process has been a great one to give people a view of the Attawapiskat we see. It's amazing to see the lyrics of the song come to life." Nigel Nakogee, age 15, grade 9 student, said: "Filming the Walking For Peace on the street with everyone was my favorite part. It was cool. I am feeling very excited for the rest of Canada to see it." Jack Linklater Jr., age 16, grade 11 student, said: "I really enjoyed this project. It tells you the real story inside of Attawapiskat, not what others choose to see because of what's in the media. I will still continue to tell the story, the true story of Attawapiskat and walk for peace and hope." Liza Jacasum, age 16, grade 10, said: "It was fun creating the song with Glenn and making the music video with Cathy and Shelley. Attawapiskat is my home town and I am proud to live here."

Upon seeing the music video, Mandy Alves, said: "This process has allowed our students to show Canada the Attawapiskat that they know, an Attawapiskat that is not defined by crisis but one that is filled with beauty and life and hope." Glenn Marais added: "What can I say about these awesome people? They worked so hard with me to track the song. It was so much fun and so rewarding to see their smiles of achievement when they knew they nailed a take."

Reflecting on the journey, Cathy Elliott said: "The youth of Attawapiskat have strong voices, and it is so good to hear them speak through music and pictures... They are using art to express their frustration and love of their community. I'm immensely humbled and encouraged by their strength, humour and resilience." Shelley MacDonald added: "The lyrics and video they created are a testament to the power the arts have to transform. I'm a different person because of this journey!" DAREarts Founder, Marilyn Field, said, "The personal growth in the youths as a result of their creating is exceptional. We are so proud of them."

DAREarts is an arts-based educational program that empowers young at-risk Canadians aged 9 to 19 with the courage to ignite change as leaders. DAREarts stands for Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence. DAREarts' lead supporters are: Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD and The Ontario Arts Council (an agency of the government of Ontario). Visit to learn more. DAREarts 'First Roots' Indigenous Program partners with First Nations. Upon invitation, DAREarts artist-educators fly into remote communities for up to three weeks to work alongside youths, local artists and elders. Together, they address challenges such as school absenteeism, hopelessness and suicide. The program is part of DAREarts' national initiative to give underserved youth the confidence and courage to be leaders who ignite change in their lives and in their communities.

The Royal Conservatory's Learning Through the Arts® (LTTA) is a proven transformative educational program that uses arts-based activities to teach the core curriculum by providing teachers with creative tools to engage all students in math, science, language arts, social studies, and more. Visit to learn more.

To view the photos associated with this press release, please visit the following links:

For more information or to arrange interviews:
DAREarts Foundation Inc.
Marilyn Field
Founder & President
905-729-0097 or 1-888-540-2787

DAREarts Foundation Inc.
Matthew Hague
Communications Volunteer