Grand River

Indigenous Placemaking

The Healing of the Seven Generations, the Pins and Needles Fabric Company, and the Blend Media Group are partnering to create a new arts mentorship program for First Peoples youth living in the Region of Waterloo. This partnership aims to develop the skills of local First Peoples youth in healing artistic fields that will merge our story-telling traditions with new technologies.

Place and environment hold a strong place in First Peoples value systems. This project aims to revitalize the First Peoples and pre-colonial histories of the Region of Waterloo, restoring the values of old gathering and other spaces of great significance to our Ancestors to create a living memory of these past functions and revitalize the culture that once existed here. Participants will work with local Elders and Knowledge Keepers to document these stories in artistic, digital, and other multi-media formats that can then be shared with larger audiences. Ten sites will be chosen to be highlighted and will be physically marked with “Easter Egg” letterboxes filled with participant’s artwork, that will signify the historical importance of each site. These sites will be linked via a digital mapping project that will showcase the artwork, photo, and video documentaries that other participants have created. These will also be compiled into a physical hard-copy Tour Book that will help enhance our community memory and pride in our cultures.

Participants in this 8 month program will receive mentorship with industry professionals over 10-15 workshops to learn skills in the following streams:

· VIDEOGRAPHY: Creating mini-documentaries, where participants will learn about videography, directing, producing, script writing, story-boarding, video editing, and other related skills

· ARTS, PRINT-MAKING, AND PLACEMAKING: Creating and designing letterboxes for a placemaking project, where participants will learn about designing, placemaking, print making, and other arts skills

· PHOTOGRAPHY: Creating photo documentaries, where participants will learn about photography techniques, lighting, and how to create stories with photos

· DIGITAL MEDIA AND CODING: Creating an interactive digital map, where participants will learn coding, how to build digital media, map-making and other related skills

· PUBLISHING: Compiling art and documentation created by participants into a full colour, soft cover book, where participants will learn design, layout, and other publication related skills

There are an estimated 20,000-40,000 First Peoples living in the Region of Waterloo, and many more thousands in the surrounding territories. The fastest growing segment of this Region’s population is First Peoples under the age of 24. This segment lives with the intergenerational legacy of the residential school system, which often manifests itself in dysfunctional families; emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual abuses; poor self-esteem or poor self-image as a First Peoples person; loss of culture; lack of awareness of cultural identity, teachings, values, and traditions; poverty, and addictions, among other issues.

This project seeks to give skills to at-risk First Peoples youth, as well as develop their networks and connections within the artistic community. Arts have transformative and healing effects and can sometimes help give shape and understanding to the words we cannot express. At the very least, we hope that this mentorship will give its participants new creative outlets to express their emotions and feelings that will help them on their healing journey.

The program begins in October 2018 and is funded by a generous grant from Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation – The Musagetes Fund.