“The first thing I learned was about artists’ stories, and the second thing I learned was to never give up.” – Student hip-hop music workshop participant at Jimmy Sandy Memorial School
ELAN’s first ACE – Arts, Community & Education project success in 2019/2020 comes from Jimmy Sandy Memorial School, located in a remote northern community, on the Naskapi territory of Kawawachikamach,. Tina Vibert, Project Coordinator, teacher, and art education specialist orchestrated ELAN ArtEd’s ACE project to bring Artist Brandon Hecht and the band Violent Ground from Montreal to Jimmy Sandy to create original music with students.
The project is named “ Iyimuuune”, (Imuune for short), the Naskapi for ‘word’. Imuune denotes the power of words, and the power of sharing those words. Brandon Hecht is a musician and the CEO of Makeway Studios, a sound engineering and Hip Hop recording studio in Montreal. He collaborated with the Indigenous hip-hop band Violent Ground, who live in Montreal and perform across Canada, and are local to Kawawachikamach, from the Naskapi Innu Nation.
Brandon and the members of Violent Ground worked with over 65 students from grade 6 to grade 11, coaching them on how to take their thoughts and life experiences and turn them into song. Students wrote the lyrics, learned how to make beats, record, and those interested performed at the final concert with Brandon and Violent Ground, cheered on by the community.
The Artists guided the students through every stage of creation and production, helping mold their stories into the bars and stanzas of their beats. The students pushed past initial shyness and learned about cultural identity, self confidence, and mental health. The project integrated the school’s curriculum with Hip Hop as the driving force of expression. They also learned about digital technology, tools behind music making, the music industry, and various career possibilities.
After the celebratory concert, one student wrote, “It made me believe we can do anything if we believe in ourselves“, and another asserted, “You can go far even if you are from a small town.”
Film director Carlos Guerra joined the project to create a new Violent Ground music video showcasing the Naskapi territory and featuring some of the students. Carlos and some students also documented the project, supported by an Artists Inspire Grant. Please watch for it and a longer feature story about this amazing ACE project to be shared online. Thank you Tina Vibert and Brandon Hecht for helping us capture this amazing story of Arts, Education, and Community!
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(Photo Credit: Carlos Guerra). Jonavan rocking the stage with Violent Ground and Brandon Hecht.