The Art of Changing the World (#ACW2017): Guest Spotlight
It is our great honour and pleasure to introduce the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth participants — whose participation is generously supported in part by the British Council office in Canada — coming to The Art of Changing the World (ACW) 2017 in Ottawa: all amazing changemakers involved in important community-engaged arts work in their communities.
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Their global work in the Arts aims to find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through creativity. Art for social change is one of the British Council’s key pillars, which is showcased through the extension of safe spaces for culture as it builds trust and dialogue to support multiple expressions of cultural identities.
For more information on the British Council’s arts program across Canada, click here.
Rachel Seepola Michael, Iqaluit, Nunavut
I am a young Inuk woman, born and raised in the capital city of Iqaluit, Nunavut. My late grand parents’ names are Simonie and Martha Michael. My late parents’ names are Kathy Makkittuk Michael and Bill Fraser. Kelly Fraser is my sister! Family, community, and learning more about Inuit culture and language mean everything to me. I started performing throat singing, and drum dancing in high school with the Inuksuk Drum Dancers Choir, who I still perform with as an alumnus today. With the love, support and encouragement from our choir instructor, Dr. Mary Piercy. I am currently working as a program coordinator with Embrace Life Council, as well as part-time youth leader at the Makukktukuvik Youth Center. My professional and personal efforts are to help bring equality to youth in care. As well as, breaking the silence and stigma around mental health issues and suicide by advocating for myself and other youth in my community. Taima.
Brianna Shae, Fort Smith, North West Territories
Brianna is a twenty-year-old North Slavey woman originating from the Sahtú region of the NWT. Growing up, she has lived in 5 different northern communities and has experience around the many Indigenous cultures and traditions. Brianna started out at the arts-based sexual health program FOXY as a 16-year-old participant at the 2013 Peer Leader Retreat. In November 2014, she was hired to work as a Peer Facilitator, engaging youth in school workshops. This year, she's leading the workshops and focuses on helping each participant complete a project to impact their community in a positive way.
Brianna knew from a young age that she was immensely passionate about benefitting society, connecting with her roots, and empowering herself and others. Brianna's work with helping others comes from an early lesson that she was taught at a young age, "We rise by lifting others first" This teaching has shaped her to be who she is today. Brianna works around Victims Services providing resources to those in need. Brianna works in Foxy which brings sexual health knowledge and self empowerment to youth in the north. Lastly, Brianna works with the NWT Métis Nation, helping keep the indigenous traditions and cultures thriving. Brianna is certain that she is starting on the right path to her future.
Nelson Tagoona, Baker Lake, Nunavut
Nelson Tagoona is an innovative hip-hop artist and ‘throat-boxer’ who combines Inuit throat-singing with beat-boxing techniques. He lives in Baker Lake Nunavut. Nelson has led many workshops and community/school performances for young people, always with the aim to provide a positive, safe forum where young people can express themselves, talk about their struggles, and hear how others have overcome similar issues. He’s in the process of founding his own company which will develop hip-hop based arts programming for schools.
We wish to thank the British Council for their generous support to make the participation of these amazing youth changemakers possible in #ACW2017!