Strathcona Youth Discover Their Inner Artivists

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

The journey begins…with questions, with curiosity.  It begins, as Candice Halls-Howcroft of Squamish Nation puts it, by listening with two sets of ears, the ones on our heads and the ones in our hearts, as she shares stories and traditions that have been handed down in her family from one generation to the next.

This week, despite two snow days, youthLEADarts Inc has been inspiring youth to express their inner artivists, a word filmmaker and multimedia artist Brunella Battista introduces as they create digital art that helps others to see how integral each and every one of us are as water protectors. 

Words flow, vocabulary crashes, thoughts are celebrated as we discover through drama, movement, poetry and digital art how closely related we are to the resource of water, how essential it is to life, how much of it surrounds us, how it heals us and how we can heal it. Often taken for granted (after all, isn’t it always there when we turn on the tap?) we paddle to great depths together in these workshops to explore where our water comes from, identify its many uses. We discover how vulnerable it can be and how vulnerable we are without it. 

With intensity and drive, like the mightiest of rivers, knowledge flows through us and out of us. It has a ripple effect. What the youth embody and create reaches beyond their classroom on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and cascades into their homes, their communities and into the world beyond their communities. 

These workshops take place within the banks of one school day, and the banks are bursting! Our first teacher commented that she wished that she could have us for a whole week of workshops. She noted that her students would benefit by having more time to percolate the information, assimilate it and apply it, there were so many skills that we were bringing, she wanted more time so they could master them. 

As water protectors we listen to and learn the five teachings of water through an Indigenous lens, embody them through drama, create a piece of performance poetry, research topics related to water, condense the information, then design and present an infographic that can be shared with a wider audience. Together we create art that helps other people to see. Together we are many hearts and minds becoming one, pulling together in our canoe to protect what is precious to us for generations to come. 

Stay tuned for more stories and photos from youth engaged in youthLEADarts Inc programs from coast to coast.