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Six Nations youth share their stories via the arts

Indigenous program Music for the Spirit & Indigenous Visual Arts is partnering with this research to bring youth stories and art to local water managers, scientists and Canadian communities.

Drum painting created by Thomas Anderson (a youth of the Six Nations of the Grand River). Photograph by Richelle Miller (Coordinator of Music for the Spirit & Indigenous Arts).

Youth at Six Nations of the Grand River are hard at work creating visual depictions of their relationships with water - in particular, the Grand River and Lake Erie. Music for the Spirit & Indigenous Arts is a youth-led after-school program providing a space for expression, learning and guidance for over 40 students. More information about the program can be found here. The CBC highlight below also features the program as a recipient of an instrument grant through the 2018 MusiCounts TD Community Music Program.



The youth began conceptualizing their pieces in October 2019 and have until the end of this month to complete them. Their creations demonstrate a range of artistic skills, from painting and pencil drawing to digital illustrating and music. The young artists will share written stories along with each piece, describing a mix of traditional teachings and personal experiences regarding their relationships with the water.


Following their artwork, some of the youth will contribute a photograph or a series of photographs in photo-journalistic style, addressing one of three themes: things you care about, problems you see, potential solutions to water-related problems. The photos are to be planned and taken by the youth, literally presenting the youths' perspectives to water managers and scientists. Students in the Music for the Spirit & Indigenous Arts program will take part in a photojournalism workshop on January 20, 2020 to prepare them for their task.


The photographs and their short, descriptive write-ups will accompany the artwork and related stories in a short book as well as a traveling art exhibition. A digital version of the book will be made available in the resources section of this website later this year. Many locations of the traveling art exhibition will be freely accessible by the public. Dates and locations are yet to be confirmed, but will be shared sometime in February!

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This research is part of the nationwide Global Water Futures research initiative at University of Waterloo (Lake Futures group).  Global Water Futures is funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund in partnership with participating institutions.  The research is also supported by the University of Waterloo.
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