DAREarts Indigenous First Roots

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“Our youth need to learn how to turn to traditional and positive support systems like DAREarts to take care of themselves during times of stress.” - Bill Jacob, Webequie First Nation

With traditional teachings, DAREarts empowers Indigenous children to combat challenges of isolation, and stay in school. Partnering with local elders and artists, the children create using many arts including storytelling, music and visual art and, with newfound courage and confidence, they make their voice heard.

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.


10,000 Youth

Empowered annually across Canada