DAREarts Foundation Inc. for Children

DAREarts Foundation Inc. for Children

August 21, 2017 10:08 ET

DAREarts youths from four Indigenous communities participate in 'Spirit Bear' Partnership Project at Stratford Festival, August 22 - 28, 2017

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 21, 2017) -

Editors Note: There are 3 photos associated with this press release.

DAREarts today announced that from August 22 - 27, 2017, seven Indigenous youths and their chaperones from four remote, northern Indigenous First Nations will visit Stratford Festival, as part of the 'Spirit Bear' Partnership Project, in association with the world premiere of the Festival's newly commissioned play, The Breathing Hole.

The youths participating in this project are from Neskantaga FN, Attawapiskat FN, Marten Falls FN and Webequie FN. Representing their communities, these seven youths will be spending several days in workshops with The Breathing Hole cast, culminating in a "Tales of the Spirit Bear" Forum event at the Studio Theatre on Sunday, August 27 at 10:30 a.m., followed by attending a matinee performance of the play, hosted by Stratford Festival's Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. The kids' art, photography, music and videography that has been created over the year in community workshops led by DAREarts are mounted in the lobby of the Studio Theatre throughout the run of The Breathing Hole.

"The Stratford Festival is giving these Indigenous youths from our remote north a voice on its world stage," said Marilyn Field, Founder and President of DAREarts. "This is an exemplary act of reconciliation. Both groups will share experiences so different and yet both Canadian. The youths have plenty to say. Giving them the chance to speak empowers them to achieve and lead."

Beginning in October 2016, addressing the Calls to Action from The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as a way to celebrate Canada's 150th, DAREarts and the Stratford Festival formed a team that brought together educators and artists from both organizations to create with the youths. This team of multi-cultural artists-educators traveled to four fly-in-only, northern Ontario First Nations and worked with their young people, alongside local teachers, elders and artists. Up to 30 youths per community engaged in intensive multi-arts weeklong workshops in their school. Through a collective creation process in dance, drama, music, visual art, photography and videography, the youths saw themselves in positive ways and found their own voice. Focusing on Traditional Teachings combined with DARE values (Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence) these youth reconnected with their culture, built their confidence, worked collaboratively and became positive role models as leaders.

"Our collaboration with DAREarts has been one of the true highlights of our work at the Stratford Festival this season," said Mr. Antoni Cimolino. "Seeing these young people's creative imaginations so stimulated by the arts as they reconnected with their own oral traditions was nothing short of inspiring and served to give us all a renewed sense of pride."

The partnership with the Stratford Festival is fundamental to this year's DAREarts project. The play 'The Breathing Hole', is a new epic allegory written by Colleen Murphy and directed by Reneltta Arluk in honour of Canada's sesquicentennial. It tells of a polar bear encountering change on northern Canadian land through five centuries.

In this partnership, Indigenous youths in each participating First Nation (i.e. Webequie FN, Marten Falls FN, Attawapiskat FN, Neskantaga FN) shared their own traditional story that involves a bear, as told by local Elders. Working with their elders, the youths of each community re-told their re-imagined version of these traditional stories in a creative, multi-arts production. At the end of each week of workshops in each community, these creative productions were presented in a community showcase and feast celebrating the youths' accomplishments. To ensure a wider impact of the youths' work, their experiences are available via social media, including DAREarts YouTube.

These new creative works have now travelled to Stratford and will be presented as a pre-show throughout the run of 'The Breathing Hole' at the Stratford Festival.

Michelle Jamieson, a set designer from Stratford Festival who joined the DAREarts team in Marten Falls and Webequie, reflected on her experiences "...It is no longer an option to ignore or claim ignorance to the realities that Indigenous people in Canada live with every day. All of us have to do better… I am proud of the work that the DAREarts team accomplished up north and am honoured to have been a part of it. I know there is so much more that needs to be done and that this program needs support."

DAREarts is a charity that empowers at-risk young Canadians to ignite change as leaders. Visit www.darearts.com DAREarts also partners with First Nations to work alongside youths, local artists and elders and together address life challenges including isolation, hopelessness, mental wellness and suicide. In its 21 years, DAREarts has reached over 200,000 Canadian kids.

The Stratford Festival has been setting the standard for classical theatre in North America for 65 years. With the works of Shakespeare at its core, this acclaimed repertory theatre presents a seven-month season of a dozen or more plays in four venues, along with a Forum of events to enrich the play-going experience. Since its revolutionary first season in 1953, it has welcomed more than 27 million theatregoers from around the world. Visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

SPIRIT BEAR PARTNERSHIP's LEAD SUPPORTERS: Province of Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport; Ontario150; Northbridge Insurance; Anne Livingston; David & Teresa Thomas; Noront Resources; Allan Drive Middle School; Streetsville Secondary School

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