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Aboriginal Program Background

2005 – 2007:

DAREarts participated with Canadian Armed Forces Junior Ranger camps to help northern First Nations youth develop life skills. Connections made with Band Councils resulted in invitations to help youth in isolated fly-in communities overcome the effects of substance abuse and suicides.

2007 – 2009:

DAREarts worked with the Northern Ontario First Nations fly-in community of Webequie FN to help youth overcome the effects of substance abuse, depression and suicide. It was a 3-year pilot project, using arts as a tool to promote healing in Aboriginal youth, who were empowered through music, filmmaking and digital artwork. The project resulted in youth-led accomplishments, expressed through multi-media arts and performance. In 2010, a Webequie Elder, Ananias Spence, chose the name Nee-tum-ochi-bek (First Roots) for the now expanded program.

Youth participated in the filming of “Fill My Hollow Bones”, a film which encapsulates the project.

2010 – 2011:

The First Roots program grew in size in Webequie FN, expanded to Marten Falls FN and Sioux Lookout in Ontario, and to Indian Brook FN in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. The extended program in Webequie culminated in a community arts and fashion show followed by a traditional celebratory feast hosted by the Band Council. The focus on fashion, in addition to music, photography and visual art, evolved from the community’s desire to translate their creative images to fabric and learn how to market their skills.


The First Roots program continued to grow to include Attawapiskat FN in Ontario.

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DAREarts helped me see myself proud, see myself strong.