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Celebrate and Elevate / HoP in the Hood at Britannia Woods

On the last weekend of July, House of Paint in partnership with the Britannia Woods Community House Band with support from AOE Arts Council hosted its second HoP in the Hood as part of the Neighbourhood Arts 150 Project.

hop1HoP in the Hood was created as a way to bring a little bit of the House of PainT festival into different communities of the city. With an average age of 23 years, Britannia Woods is one of the youngest areas in the city. The event brought together the community to participate in, celebrate and elevate urban arts and culture through painting, dancing, and sharing experiences.

hop5The idea of creating a mural was something the community had been hoping to do for some time but did not have the capacity to deliver on until this partnership was formalized.  Mohamed Sofa, Executive Director of Britannia Woods Community House shared that approximately 70 individuals, both young and old, participated in the design and painting of a large mural completed over two days. The mural project was also an opportunity for participants to learn from established Ottawa muralists Mique Michelle and Alexandre Aimée.

hop3In addition to the mural, community members were able to participate in a dance workshop, a spoken word workshop led by Ottawa Poet Laureate Jamaal Rogers. Performances were held by members of local hip hop act Missing Linx as well as Britannia Woods’ own OTTR (On Track to Royalty). The members of OTTR have honed their writing and beat making skills over the past year through MASC another Neighbourhood Arts 150 supported project.

hop4For the five members of OTTR, who are all teenagers, it was a great opportunity to perform in front of friends and family. “The community was very supportive” said OTTR member Mathew Augustin, “they want to hear more from us.” Their plan is to write more songs says Taj Morrison.

hop6 “With an average age of 23 years old, Britannia Woods Community House is one of the younger areas in Ottawa. Sharing a positive message with kids through hip hop is something that will stick with them.”

hop2Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuk3_mix8iM

 

Théâtre Belvédère

Des chiffres, des statistiques et… des nouilles de piscine !?

Donc des chiffres et des statistiques pour faire un spectacle. C’est bien beau tout ça, mais, ces données, on les représente comment sur la scène ? Pour appuyer le côté ludique de nos statistiques, nous avons décidé de les illustrer en utilisant nul autre objet que… des nouilles de piscine… Au grand plaisir de nos adolescents-acteurs ! (Qui ont du rester bien concentrés tout au long des répétitions pour que le plateau ne se transforme pas en champ de bataille de nouilles de piscine car, oui, la tentation est forte !). L’idée nous a tellement inspirées que nous avons décoré notre scène entière de nouilles, habillé nos comédiennes avec des nouilles, couvert tous nos accessoires de nouilles et cet objet est ainsi devenu notre seul accessoire scénique !

nouilles

QUARTIER(S) : morceaux d’avenir nous a donc permis de faire naître de la théâtralité de deux matériau improbables : les statistiques et les nouilles de piscines !

En parlant de statistiques, nous vous offrons aujourd’hui un second TOP 6 des données « hautement scientifiques » recueillies grâce au questionnaire distribué à 150 résidentes et résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland dans le cadre du projet !!! Bonne découverte !

  1. La majorité des répondants ont identifié leur maison ou les parcs comme leur lieu préféré dans leur quartier. Or, le centre commercial et les centres sportifs ont été identifiés comme les lieux les plus fréquentés. Cela pourrait dire que les résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland ne passent pas la majorité de leur temps dans les endroits qu’ils préfèrent.
  2. Selon les signes astrologiques des répondants, Les Orléanais/Orléanaises/ Cumbernois/Cumbernoises sont nés en majorité l’été (à 36,6 %). Conclusion : Cela peut vouloir dire qu’à Orléans et Cumberland, les bébés sont conçus en plus grand nombre entre septembre et décembre, ou que les bébés aiment le soleil, ou qu’ils ont peur du froid, ou….
  3. 48,7 % des répondants affirment être impliqués bénévolement dans leur quartier, avec une moyenne de 12 heures de bénévolat par mois. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que la population d’Orléans et de Cumberland entière investit jusqu’à 1 286 208 heures par année dans le bénévolat !
  4. Le lait et le pain sont les produits les plus souvent achetés à l’épicerie par nos répondants. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que les régions d’Orléans et de Cumberland ont été épargnées et ne sont pas affectées par le problème répandu d’intolérance au lactose et au gluten !!!?
  5. Les répondants ont identifiés toute une gamme de mots qui décrivent, selon eux, le mieux leur quartier. Conclusion : la multiplicité de réponses fait très certainement état la richesse et de la diversité de ces quartiers ! Les voici dans le graphique ci-dessous.

mots

  1. 81,6 % des résidents affirment préférer la douche au bain. Conclusion : il y a très certainement plusieurs baignoires sous-utilisées dans les maisons unifamiliales d’Orléans et de Cumberland.

Alors…Vous reconnaissez-vous dans ce portrait ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Théâtre Belvédère

Statistiques parfaitement imparfaites Portrait des quartier(s) d’Orléans et de Cumberland

Que ce soit à travers des recensements ou autres formes de sondages, les chiffres et les statistiques sont souvent utilisés pour dresser un portrait global d’une population et pour sonder les tendances dominantes dans une région ou un temps donnés. Les statistiques sont généralement des données quantitatives qui font office de « preuves tangibles » et concrètes.

Mais qu’arrive-t-il lorsque deux artistes qui n’ont rien de mathématiciennes ou de scientifiques mettent sur pied un questionnaire de leur cru, sondent 150 résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland de tous les âges et horizons au sujet de leur quartier, pour ensuite s’approprier cette matière « hautement scientifique » pour la création d’un spectacle ?

Si les deux complices ont pris très au sérieux le mandat de dresser un portrait sous forme théâtrale des quartiers d’Orléans et de Cumberland, elles ont eu envie de le faire en s’amusant avec les chiffres et les statistiques. Envie de faire parler les chiffres… tout en les prenant avec un grain de sel ! Les deux acolytes se sont ainsi permis quelques extrapolations libres au moment de l’analyse pour faire naître un univers de fiction déluré, inspiré des données réelles recueillies.

Et que révèlent les statistiques ? Voici un Top 6 des données « hautement scientifiques » recueillies.

  1. 42 % des répondants ont affirmé habiter Orléans ou Cumberland depuis les années 2000. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que la population de ces quartiers a drastiquement augmenté au tournant du siècle.
  2. 10 % des résidents affirment habiter leur quartier depuis toujours. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire qu’il y a parmi les résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland… des éternels !
  3. 59,9 % des répondants affirment habiter des maisons unifamiliales. Conclusion : Cela veut très certainement dire que la densité de population est beaucoup plus basse qu’au centre-ville. Cela pourrait également vouloir dire que moins d’individus se partagent plus d’oxygène !
  4. 40,86% des répondants trouvent que le VERT est la couleur qui représente mieux leur quartier. Conclusion : cela pourrait vouloir dire qu’ils sont de fiers franco-ontariens, des amateurs de la nature et de la verdure ou encore tout simplement qu’ils aiment le gazon, ou les kiwi ou…
  5. 60 % des répondants ont affirmé avoir un animal de compagnie. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que qu’il faut bien regarder où l’on met les pieds lorsque l’on s’y déplace à pied ! Nous remarquons également la grande créativité des résidents, si on en juge aux prénoms donnés à leurs petites bêtes. Voici quelques exemples : les chiens Riesling et Tyra Barks, les chats Cinnamon Boots, Voltaire, Pepsi et Coke, l’oiseau Disney ou le lézard… George McPedro !
  6. 60,9 % des répondants ont identifié les activités sportives et les sorties culturelles comme loisirs favoris. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que les résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland sont très actifs, tout autant sur le plan physique, qu’intellectuel.

Restez à l’affût : nous vous en révélons davantage dans notre prochaine entrée de blogue !

Naomi Tessler

Story Magic

Directly before our first show, the actors in our Playing Back Our Neighbourhood Stories youth ensemble were nervously running through our techniques, frantically asking questions about the basics– which they already knew inside and out.

I was growing concerned about how the performance would turn out and as our audience members began taking their seats the ensemble’s jitters doubled.  They were surprised and nervous that people had shown up to watch them perform.

The pressure was on…

As we began our introductions, the audience’s laughter soothed the group and they relaxed into their new roles as performers. They immersed themselves in the dance between actor and spectator and fed off the energy the crowd was offering.

The audience was filled with Barrhaven residents of all ages and backgrounds and there was no need to encourage the stories to come out—this audience was ready to share and excited to see how the actors would translate their stories into theatre.

Our actors, accompanied by our talented Barrhaven youth musician, listened intently to each storyteller and honoured them by playing back their story with full heart and charisma.

Youth who had been previously shy and quiet in rehearsal were comedic and boisterous and the whole ensemble was willing to dive in and express themselves with a full range of emotion and movement.

Each technique was artfully performed and each story was beautifully represented. When there were elements of a story that was missed, the youth were more then happy to take another chance at capturing the story again.

Audience members shared their joy of living in a beautiful, peaceful and quiet place and the frustrations of living so far out.  We heard stories about Barrhaven residents supporting each other in winter storms and a Barrhaven bus driver’s challenges with students forgetting their bus passes.  We heard stories about conflicting friendships, skunks eating garbage, bumpy bike rides and the challenges of new developments. Stories were shared about school experiences and finding community, taking part in the many sports activities Barrhaven has to offer and the kindness and patience of Barrhaven drivers.

The ensemble and I were moved by the everyone’s stories and it was clear that our audience was deeply engaged, entertained and felt a part of a true community experience.

Our first show was a real success and I was amazed at how far our ensemble had come!

After our successful first show on July 7th at Barrhaven Community House, we were all set for our next performance at The Court at Barrhaven Seniors Residence on July 18th.   The audience members for this show were excited to have visiting performers in their atrium and were waiting in their seats well before our performance began. The youth confessed that they didn’t have much experience with performing for or connecting with seniors and the nervousness that had evaporated by the start of our first show had returned.  To challenge things further, our sound equipment wasn’t working which meant the youth had to project their voices extra loudly to make sure anyone with hearing troubles could still enjoy the show.

After some calming warm ups and pizza, the youth seemed ready to shine onstage again, but as I was welcoming the audience and making my introduction, we were all taken by storm when one of the residents who was trying to sit down, missed the chair and fell right over.  Noone moved for a moment and then feeling the need to help, I rushed over and tried to offer support. All the seniors, who’d clearly experienced this many times before, coached me not to do so, and they called for a nurse instead.  The nurse arrived and called in a support team and after a little while, the audience member was seated and ready for the show.

It was tough to dive right in after that fall, but we gradually moved the audience along and the first stories shared brought us all to a new place.

It was a pleasure to hear the seniors’ stories of the community and friendships they’ve found in Barrhaven, their experiences of reconnection with family and their memories of the bread and meat pies at Richmond Bakery.  They shared stories of their initial struggle in moving to Barrhaven (which they referred to as ‘the sticks’ and ‘the boondocks’–and the youth later confessed that they were unfamiliar with those terms) and they shared stories of hope in feeling a sense of belonging and peace.  They shared past times of strawberry picking early in the morning to beat the heat, apple and pumpkin picking and the times when the main street didn’t even have lights.

Their stories were a pleasure to bring to life and the experience of intergenerational community building was amazing to witness.

Our ensemble listened with compassion and performed with courage and creativity, aiming to make sure they reflected the seniors’ stories back with humility.

Their techniques were strong and they tried their best to make their voices fill the room.

I was impressed with their flexibility to let go of one of the techniques we had planned to use. Our technique: rant, requires audience members to share stories about struggle, challenge or frustration and no one had a story to share of that nature.   This technique is the youth’s favourite and I could tell they were waiting for it, but we needed to meet our audience where they were and so we moved on to the next technique and the actors smoothly rolled on with the show.

Our first two Playing Back Our Neighbourhood Stories performances have been a true success!  The stories shared by the audience have offered a mosaic of memories and experiences of Barrhaven and the way our youth ensemble played them back truly brought everyone into the heart of each other’s journey—building connection and community amongst our audiences and our ensemble.

We look so forward to our next two shows and hope you can Join us for

FREE Entertainment, FREE Food and FREE local raffle prizes on:

Friday, August 11th, 6:30pm Food Served, 7pm Show Time
The Log Farm, 670 Cedarview Road
Saturday, August  19th, 11am Show Time, Community BBQ to Follow,
Ken Ross Park, Near the Play Structure

We thank the Nepean Housing Corporation, Loblaws, Braces Haven, The Court at Barrhaven, AOE Arts Council, Neighbourhood Arts 150, Emily Veryard and all our volunteers for making our first two shows come to fruition, enabling the magic of stories to be shared and performed.

 

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre

Presenting the stories – with puppets, props and playing around!

We’ve narrowed down the list of books and songs for Snippets of Canada 150, our series of staged readings, and now it’s time to think about how we’re going to present the stories. How can we get these characters to jump off the page and come to life? What kind of voices do they have? What puppets, props, masks or hats do we have? What can we make, buy or borrow?

Let the scavenger hunt begin!

In the house, we found a big sheet of paper, a white cloth, a sock snake, a rabbit mask, and some stuffed toy puppets, including a snake, a loon, a duck, 2 cows, a pig, a beaver, a moose, a bat, and a rabbit. Also some paint, flexi-firm, and a hoodie for the Grumpy Bird.

In the garage, we went through the boxes that contain props from various shows:

Felicity Falls: backdrop, table cloth, table, Rod Rabbit, kitchen, mini puppets, water can & tub, fabrics, branch, pillow, kalimba, houses

The Last Polar Bears: Sheep, slide whistle;

A Promise is A Promise: Qallupiluit mask, Allashua mini puppet, blue pillow; rainstick

APA_2017-07-06_07-05-11_APA_4261The Flying Canoe: Limberjacks, board, step stool, René hat, moustache, puppet; J-M hat & puppet, Canoe, Bear mask, water sprayer

Our good friends at OYPTS loaned us: Antlers, skunk ears, frog hoodie, potatoes

And we made: a mask for Grumpy Bird, consisting of a hoodie with hand painted feathers, and a beak sewn onto a pair of glasses.

APA_2017-07-06_07-09-22_APA_4276We spent a lot of time rehearsing, just the two of us, and then with Russell. We figured out how to use each puppet or prop, rejected some, found others, and then rehearsed with the music.

Now, to get all those props organized for the presentations!

We decided that we needed a backdrop (to run around for those bear chases!), a table, and some chairs for our guests.

APA_2017-07-06_07-18-01_APA_4322Under the table are four large bags, and each one contains a book and all the props we need for that story:

A Promise is a Promise, Hat, Ernest, Grumpy Bird.

Backstage: All the props for The Flying Canoe; tambourine, vibraslap, Limberjacks, board, siren

Leaning on the backdrop, behind the table: everything we need for “How the animals came to live in Felicity Falls.”

On the guest chairs: extra copies of the books.

And we’re all set for Snippets of Canada 150!

 

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre

So many books, so little time! Canadian Books Galore!

We asked local librarians to recommend some Canadian picture books for our series of staged readings, Snippets of Canada 150. And boy, did we get some wonderful ideas – more than 50 books in all! We loved reading them, and had a hard time choosing which ones to include in our presentation. We wanted books that were funny, innovative, dramatic, not too long and, of course, Canadian. We also wanted to leave room in the presentation for songs, storytelling, and audience participation, so in the end, we couldn’t use them all. We hope our audiences will enjoy the ones we did chose, maybe borrow them from the library and read them again – and then “check out” some of the others!

Here’s the complete list of suggested authors, sorted by categories. Many authors have written several books, and they’re all available at the Ottawa Public Library!

Cute and funny books about animals

Nicholas Oldman, Jon Klassen, Melanie Watt, Jeremy Tankard, Catherine Rayner, Brenda Silsbe

First Nation stories

David Bouchard, Michael Kusugak, Susan Avingaq, Danielle Daniel, David Robertson, Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Canadian scenery

Phyllis Root, Gary Paulsen, Per Henrik Gurth, Cora Taylor

Multicultural authors

Ruth Ohi, Rukhsana Khan, Aubrey Davis

Famous Canadian authors

Robert Munsch, Roch Carrier, Jean Little, Paulette Bougeois, Linda Bailey, Phoebe Gilman Barbara Reid Marie-Louise Gay

Other Canadian authors – less famous but no less interesting!

Lindsay Mattick, Ashley Spires, Annika Dunk Lee, Allan Morgan, François Tardif, Réjean, Edith Fowke

Librarians also had some music suggestions

Raffi, Sharon Lois & Bram, Carmen Campagne, Gordon Lightfoot, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Wade Hemsworth

And the books we chose? Well, here are four of our favourites:

Ernest, by Catherine Rayner

I Want my Hat Back, by Jon Klassen

A Promise is a Promise, by Michael Kusugak

Grumpy Bird, by Jeremy Tankard

We can hardly wait to share these readings at a library near you July 4–19, 2017!

Read all about Snippets of Canada 150 here. It’s part of AOE Arts Council’s Neighbourhood Arts 150.

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre

Rag & Bone is coming to a library near you with free family events!

Snippets of Canada 150 will be a series of readings and workshops, 24 events at 19 local libraries. Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre will invite special guests to read children’s books while John, Kathy and Russell animate the stories with snippets of puppetry, masks, music and drama. The selection of books will celebrate Canada – highlighting our history, animals, and people, including First Nations and newcomers, and the event will welcome lots of audience participation.

Guest readers will include MP Andrew Leslie, OPL Trustees, staff and volunteers, and professional artists John Koensgen, Kate Smith, David daCosta, Jacqui Du Toit and Brittany Johnston.

For more information and the complete schedule, visit ragandbone.ca, biblioottawalibrary.ca or neighbourhoodarts150.wordpress.com

Snippets of Canada 150 is part of AOE Arts Council’s Neighbourhood Arts 150, Celebrating Ottawa’s Communities, an official Canada 150 and Ontario 150 community-engaged arts project.

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre has toured across Canada and the U.S. since 1978. Founders John Nolan and Kathy MacLellan are joined by musician Russell Levia in productions of exceptional creativity and value for young audiences. Over 40 performances annually in local public venues give area families an opportunity to feel inspired, creative and to spend quality time together.

Neighbourhood Arts 150 is bringing twelve of Ottawa’s most inspiring professional artists and arts groups together with neighbourhoods from all corners of Ottawa to celebrate their communities and express what it means to be Canadian. Ottawans can participate in free arts experiences, from April to October in over 20 communities outside the downtown core. Local youth, seniors, families, newcomers,

BIAs, community associations and more are taking part in artist-led activities including dance, theatre, art installations, sculptures, storytelling, puppetry, murals and more in non-traditional venues.

Neighbourhood Arts 150 is supported by Funders: Government of Canada, Ontario 150; and Partners: Ottawa 2017, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Metroland Media, Trinity Development Foundation, the Danbe Foundation and Jewel 98.5 FM, and many community partners.

All are invited to share their Neighbourhood Arts 150 experiences by following and sharing on Facebook Twitter and Instagram: @150ArtsOttawa #150ArtsOttawa. Read artist blog posts, see project descriptions and community partners, and plan your arts experiences using the interactive calendar at http://www.150ArtsOttawa.ca

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre

Snippets of Canada

Here’s the flexible lineup for Snippets of Canada 150. We add and subtract depending on the library, the guest reader, and the audience response.

  • Russell sings a song.

Kathy: Hello everyone and welcome to Snippets of Canada 150, a collection of songs and stories celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.

APA_2017-07-06_07-26-11_APA_4356We are Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre: Kathy, John, Russell and guests.

We want to thank all the librarians across Ottawa who suggested books and songs for this event. There were lots of ideas for books about animals.

In the end, we decided that we should start off with a book about a moose. A big moose, because Canada is so big. And moose live all across it.

  • Guest: Ernest by Catherine Rayner.
  • Russell sings a song.

Kathy: And now, a book about a bear and other animals.

  • Guest: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Kathy: The First Nations were the first people in Canada, and one of our favourite Rag & Bone shows is A Promise is A Promise. And this is how that story begins.

  • Guest: A Promise is a Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak

Kathy: Some of the first newcomers to Canada came from France, and here’s a song they sang.

  • Song: Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser

Kathy: And here’s a story about some French-Canadian trappers, from a book called The Talking Cat by Natalie Savage Carlson. It’s one story in a show we do called The Flying Canoe.

  • John, Kathy & Russell: The Bear in the Canoe

Kathy: Jean Marc and René were also loggers.

  • Russell sings a song.

APA_2017-07-06_07-06-48_APA_4268Kathy: Then there were farmers and settlers, and there are always new people coming to Canada, and this next story is from another Rag & Bone show called Felicity Falls. It’s about learning to get along and work together to build a great place to live, like Canada.

  • John & Kathy: Felicity Falls

Kathy: And here’s a song that celebrates farming, and one of our most famous vegetables.

  • Russell sings a song

Kathy: We’ve celebrated Canada’s animals, people and vegetables, but what about our birds? We have lots of birds in Canada. They all have different personalities. The next story is about one that is Grumpy.

  • Guest: Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
  • Russell sings a song.

APA_2017-07-06_07-33-51_APA_4377

Claudia Salguero

Canadian Pride, Harmony in Cultures

 

I am at a stage in my life in which I am finding answers to these questions and the Neighbourhood Arts 150 project is playing an important part in this personal discovery.

I became a community Arts-Based Facilitator four years ago and since then, through volunteering or having been hired by institutions, I have witnessed the power of the arts in individuals and communities.

thumb_2017-05-12 20.41.49_1024In January this year I was awarded a grant from AOE Arts Council to create a community mural for the Hunt Club – Riverside Community Centre.  I am humbled by what I consider to be a huge recognition for my previous work and one that provides an answer to some of my questions. I think that this grant also represents a gift for my neighbourhood since my project consists on the creation of a community mural entitled “Canadian Pride, Harmony in Cultures” for the Hunt Club – Riverside Community Centre, painted by members of our diverse and eager-to-express community.

The idea of the creation of the “Canadian Pride, Harmony in Cultures” mural is to celebrate our multicultural community and express our gratitude to Canada as the country where we live in peace and where our kids grow up safe and with countless opportunities. This mural will represent our participation as community in the Canada 150 celebrations.

Since the conception of the project I thought about bringing community together and my dream is coming through: we have had community brainstorm sessions with participation of seniors, adults and teenagers and a great number of painting sessions with women and youth. We have still many more painting sessions to complete the mural in time for its unveiling in September. Our mural will be comprised of independent pieces that represent the countries and areas of the world from where our multicultural community comes.  It will also represent Canada’s First Nations and Canadian culture and landscape.

thumb_2017-05-17 18.56.31_1024The creation of this mural for Hunt Club – Riverside is a gift for our neighbourhood. It is bringing a sense of belonging, empowerment and community-building to our neighbourhood and when installed on the exterior of our Community Centre, it will provide colour and vibrancy to an area of the city where art and opportunities for expression are badly needed.

Thanks to Neighbourhood Arts 150 Project I am able to create a big community mural in my own neighbourhood and to confirm to myself that being a community arts based facilitator is definitely one of my most important missions in life as an a artist and as human being.

Claudia Salguero, July 2017

 

MASC

Original Song

Gathering in a classroom that looks no different from the other middle school rooms in the building, 9 students have spent their last five Thursdays from 4:15pm to 5:45pm brainstorming on song lyrics to present at the new Rural MASC-Awesome Arts Festival. From grades 6 – 8, adolescent anticipation with a hint of reluctance fills the air, but jokes are plentiful as they tease each other playfully about everything from their sweaty recess hair to the lack of skills acquired from using fidget spinners. As I settle the youth, we take a look at words that fill pages inside personalized song folders, and I could see the students eyes fill up with surprise, as they notice how the song that they have been working on for the past five weeks now have a format and melody.

As the facilitator of the Original Song workshop, my responsibility is to engage the participants in critical thought about what diversity and inclusion means to them, and how to transfer their thoughts into a full song that can be performed live on stage in front of an audience. The task is not an easy one for students who are not accustomed to living within a diverse community.

song3The rural township of Kinburn is mainly farm area and long stretches of road, however, with opportunities to share their stories and ideas, the brainstorming sessions have offered the group a means to find ways to speak about how they feel on the topics. Words such as “competition”, “ocean”, “equality”, and “humanity”, are proposed as the students tell me what comes to mind when they think of the terms diversity and inclusion.

A voting process is used to minimize their word web, and after three sessions, the students are using these words to write lyrics on their own to an instrumental song generously supplied by a top hiphop/urban music producer in Ottawa by the name of Nick Giurgevich. Selecting which lyrics will fit the three chorus, two verse song requires delicate decision making; every student feels as though all their lyrics should be in the song, however, with some craftiness from myself, I find a way to use at least two lines from each student’s writing to be a part of the original song. With a catchy melody and a powerful message about judging and competition, the students finally get to see their work come full circle, as they spend the next two sessions rehearsing for their production on Thursday, June 15 at their home school, Stonecrest Elementary.

They’ve created a fabulous song with a powerful message. One that they can be proud to perform and share!

-Jamaal Jackson Rogers