Water is Life: A day at Hastings Elementary

“The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.” –  Gandhi

Water. Connects us. Fuels us. Refreshes us. Without it, we can only survive for three days. We live around it, in it, close to it. It flows into each of our stories and nourishes them. As the youthLEADarts team gathered today at Hastings Elementary and as we opened the circle with Candice’s eagle feather, we spoke to water. We all had to think about where we and our ancestors were from and what bodies of water were part of our landscapes. 

Candice brought to us five teachings from her culture about water and provided an Indigenous lens through which we learned to preserve this precious resource. Water is in the natural world, it flows, falls, ripples and runs. Water is with us from birth and as we are born. It floats us, holds us and grows us. Water is part of ceremony. It dances and sings with us, and purifies us as we plunge into it. Water is song. It glides through our vocal cords, strengthens us, brings us to harmony. Water is identity. It is from our place and the place of our ancestors. It is Kal Lake, the Fraser, Capilano, Rhone, Thames and Mississippi Rivers and the great oceans. 

We strung these teachings together and danced them together, literally, in small groups we created dance sequences, thinking of our relationship and responsibility to water. 

In the afternoon, we reflected more on the creatures of the water, in particular the whales and Deirdre led us through a workshop where we drew whales, doodle style and built slogans and stories around these mammoth creatures. No two were the same. All inspired stories, all spoke to the need to be a voice for the voiceless. 

What difference can a day make? In this one, introductory youthLEADarts workshop, the difference was evident. Youth found, that in the scope of a few hours, they could indeed be the change that is needed in the world, that they could create something so evocative that it could make people wonder, that it could move them and spur them on to action. Today the youth at Hastings had the chance to be changemakers and work the tools that flow from their imaginations through story, dance, music and art to make sure that the inheritance they leave to their children is better than the one left to them. 

Looking forward to three more workshops in both French and English at Hastings in the coming days.