W e returned to Calgary to do two unique projects. The first one was in a school where there was lots of racism and violence going on between First Nations youth and the local largely white community. The Cree, Blackfoot and Blood youth were bused in and ranged in age from 10 -14. We had them all integrated together with the white studentsand talked a lot about bullying, stereotypes, anger etc. We even had the first nations youth teach buffalo drum to the local kids. At the end of the week teachers expressed that it was almost like racism never existed in the school -yet just a few months before there was a stabbing in the schoolyard and youth gang violence. Local Elders where involved and there was a final community showcase for parents at the “Jack Singer Center” in Calgary.
T he second project was unique in that we worked with 100 teenage Muslim girls, and customized the week-long programing around the issues that they defined as important and stress in their lives. We talked about relationships, bullying, body image, and pressures and concerns over arranged marriages and how women are perceived in their culture. At the end of the week these amazing young ladies performed on the main stage at Calgary’s biggest theater and incorporated Bangara into their routines and showcase. According to many of these young women it was the most empowering week of their lives. Thank you “City Of Calgary” and Beth Gignac and team for being visionary in your arts outreach programs.