Removing barriers to cultural activities benefits youth in many ways

Removing barriers to cultural activities benefits youth in many ways

October 30, 2023

Making sure inner-city kids have lots of options and no barriers to participate in cultural activities is a priority for Dao Duong. Since he started as a Dream Broker in 2022, he has witnessed the strong impact that cultural teachings can have on children and youth.

“Kids who have access to cultural activities have more success,” he says. “When the kids are supported to learn about their culture, their roots, they find connection and pride. Then they will pass it to over to the next generation when they are adults.”

The Dream Broker program, currently offered in 19 schools in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Yorkton and North Battleford, continues to help children connect to sport, culture and recreation activities. The program is supported by SaskCulture, Sask Sport and SPRA to increase access to sport, culture and recreation to youth facing barriers to participation. In 2016, Creative Kids began offering a special program grant that helped support even more children and youth access group cultural experiences in an after-school setting.

Duong says he’s thankful for the funding from Creative Kids as it helps him offer Indigenous cultural activities, such as fiddling, beading, jigging, regalia-making and hoop dancing programs, after school for students from St. Michaels and St. Francis schools in Saskatoon. The majority of students involved are Indigenous and often face financial barriers to participation.

Molly Moors taught the Blazing Fiddle program after school at St. Michaels last year. She says, “When our kids grow up in a space where they feel they can be authentically themselves and they feel connected to their community and culture, it benefits everyone around them.”

She adds, not only do the students gain more access to music education, which will open doors in their future, they receive the mental and physical benefits.  “The Blazing Fiddle program actively works to reconcile and revitalize, through the power of music,” she says. “Métis cultural revitalization, among all Indigenous cultural revitalization, is essential for the health and well-being of our Indigenous communities.

“They are carrying on cultural traditions that have been present on this land for many, many years. Our students are often ambassadors for their school and their school board and represent the Métis culture and community with pride.”

Both Duong and Moors say, there are many success stories as a result of the cultural programming and many benefits to youth when they can participate in a cultural activity. For Duong, one student stands out from the fiddle program last year. Through his involvement with the fiddle program this student learned that music was a tool that could help him better cope with his emotions. Instead of acting out, he would go to the music room and play his fiddle to cope with his frustrations.

Moors says a different student stands out in her mind. This young person gained enough confidence from this music experience to go onstage and perform with her by himself, when otherperformers didn’t show up. Even though Moors gave him the option not to perform, he chose to continue. “We performed the song together and it went wonderfully. The fact that the student not only had a passion to learn the tune, but a willingness to share his work with the community, is the success.”