Stepping Sideways – Resiliency and the Learning Heart

ArtBridges is a hub of communications, support, and inspiration for community based arts groups and individuals. DAREarts just received a cherished award from ArtBridges for DAREarts Aboriginal First Roots program, which delivers arts education in collaboration with schools, artists and First Nations all over Canada.
2015 Artbridges Resiliency AwardThe “Resiliency Award” is very special to us, because it recognizes the challenges that not only we, but FNMI kids and their communities experience in remote areas, specifically First Nations fly-in only communities in the North.

We have a saying:  “If you can’t go forward, step sideways,” which is something that our kids and their parents know intimately.  This is an ingenious way to solve problems.  Sometimes, things just don’t go the way they were planned.  So.  We improvise.  As artists working in their communities, we have learned from the best: the artists we work with, the young people and the Elders.

The challenges can be deceptively simple or devastatingly complicated. I’ve seen a snowfall or drop in temperature kybosh three days of artistic development – or a plane that won’t land, or, sadly, a funeral of a loved one turn a week into days of re-planning, re-scheduling, re-thinking.  My own mother’s death on Valentine’s Day put a huge amount of pressure on the two other artists who were working in Marten Falls FN. They had to press on and make the final presentation day happen without my help (I was flown home for Mom’s funeral) Funerals in the communities often make us step sideways.  Out of respect, all activities stop until we can start up again. The young people are prime examples of resiliency. They work with us to make their final work of art happen. That’s the Discipline part of our values.

The artists we thank are Genevieve Anthony, Francois & Jennifer Aubrey, Linda Carson, John Cowling, Peter Elliott, Waawaate Fobister, Glenn Marais, Laura MacKinnon, Zoee Maxwell, D’Arcy Moses, Lee Pham, Jeremy Proulx, Julian Sale, Tanya Senk…They all stepped sideways when needed.

The community teachers who contributed their talents and advice and let us disrupt their schedules are heroes to us. They carried on the arts and values after we left.

Last but not least: local community artists, musicians, painters, beaders, drummers, – you are our foundation.  This award is for you, too.

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Left to Right: Seanna Connell, Artbridges; Cathy Elliott, DAREarts Aboriginal First Roots; Marilyn Field, DAREarts Founder & President

Stepping sideways is a way to step forward. It’s a way of going around obstacles and building resilience. It teaches us that there are many ways to teach…and learn. One step at a time. Never stopping.

Miigwetch, Wela’lin, Mahsi Cho, Quyanaini…there are not enough words for thank you.

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