DAREarts Expansion Program… to Indian Brook First Nation!

For the first time, DAREarts’ First Roots (“Nee-Tum-Ochi-Bek”) Program has expanded to the Maritimes! The students of LSK Indian Brook School in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, dedicated a week to working with the DAREarts team consisting of aboriginal artists Alan Syliboy, Cathy Elliott, and artist-teacher Linda Carson.


Photo courtesy Alan Syliboy

Working primarily with students from grades 7, 8, and 9, the focus of the week was Courage. The students quickly took up the DAREarts principles of Discipline, Action, Respect/Responsibility, and Excellence, along with the Seven Grandfather Teachings. With strong dedication and hard work, the students were very accomplished by the end of the week. In only five short days, two of which were snow days, the children started and finished their own paintings, made their own puppets, brainstormed their own collaborative story titled “The Nothing Man”, and wrote their own song, “MelKiknoti, Courage”. All of this was done on top of preparing for their own showcase performance at the end of the week.


Photo courtesy Alan Syliboy

Linda describes the shining moments of the children’s performance of “The Nothing Man”: “The actors and puppeteers took to the stage with total focus and concentration. Suddenly, all their hard work and the concept of what disciplined work can bring all made sense to them. With only one and a half hours of rehearsal under their belts, the students were amazing. Cathy’s narration set just the right tone for the audience to completely enjoy watching not only the shadows, but the students as they improvised and jumped into the action of the story. Everyone, including the students, was amazed at how fun the play was to watch and do. Linda was on the floor directing the students through their parts and she looked up to see 15 faces lit up by the projectors. Each face was full of life, excitement, surprise at the audience’s reaction to their work. Each student was fully aware of each other and their faces reflected the delight they were experiencing working together. It was a magical moment. The light shining towards the screen to make our shadows picking up faces full of delight along the way. The audience loved every minute of the play.”


Photo courtesy Alan Syliboy

Click here to read the story created by the students, “The Nothing Man”.


Photo courtesy Alan Syliboy

After the performance, the students and their teachers gathered for a final circle meeting with DAREarts. During this circle, one of their teachers stated “This week really opened up my eyes to the value of using the arts to help the students to learn. It also let me see my students in a whole new light and from a new perspective. I was really surprised at what some of my students could do and who they were.” Precious, a quiet student, gathered her Courage and approached Linda after the circle meeting to say “Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for being here today. I really loved this whole week.”

LSK work with Alan Syliboy

Photo courtesy Alan Syliboy

MelKiknoti, Courage (Mell-giggin-oh-dee)

Sometimes it can be hard
Just to stand alone and sing
If you’re running for your life
And you’re scared of everything
Afraid to raise your voice
And afraid to take a chance
It takes courage just to stand
For the warrior to dance

Doesn’t matter if you’re strong
If you’re white or black or brown
It takes guts to face your fears
To raise your voice and stare them down
You’re not alone, you’re just like me
You can find it in your family
You can see it in your Mama’s eyes
Take a tiny step and realize
It takes Courage just to be.

Sometimes it can be rough
Just to tough it out and cope
When you’re running out of time
And you’re running out of hope
Afraid to make the leap
And afraid to say hello
It takes courage just to stand
For the child in you to grow


Snakes and spiders
Sticks and stones
Fear of hunger
Buried bones
Darkened houses
Basement floors
Open sewers
Slamming doors
Bats and bullies
Birds and heights
Leaving home and
Lonely nights


It takes Courage
Courage, Courage
It takes Courage just to be.


Photo courtesy Alan Syliboy

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