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10TuesdayMarch102015FortSmithstudentsIndspiredbycareerconferencePerformingartstourencouragesyouthtotelltheirstoriesByMEAGANWOHLBERGSixteenAboriginalyouthfromFortSmithhavereturnedhomewithafewmoreplansandalotmoreinspirationforlifeafterhighschoolfollowinganAboriginalcareerscon-ferenceandawardsshowputonbyIndspireinCalgarylastweek.ThecohortofstudentsfromGrades11and12atPWKhighschoolwereoneoftwoNorth-erngroupstoattendSoaringastudentcareerconferencededicatedtoshowcasingthescholarshipsprogramsandjoboppor-tunitiesavailabletostudentssoonenteringtheworkforce.Apartfromthetradeshowstoursandses-sionswithbothacademicinstitutionsandprivateindustrytheannualIndspireawardsceremonyaddedanextradollopofinspira-tiontotheagendashowcasingwhatspos-sibleforyoungAboriginalpeoplewithalotofideasandalittlesupportfromthefoun-dationsscholarships.Theyouthawards-thosepeoplewereveryclosetoourage-andseeinghowmuchtheyvedoneitkindofmotivatesyousaidstudentKatieHoltorf.Itslikeheywecoulddothattoo.AmongthosekeyrolemodelswasyouthawardwinnerKendalNetmakerofSaskatch-ewanwhoestablishedhisownlineofath-leticwearcalledNeechieGearfromwhichaportionofprotsisdonatedtohelpingun-derprivilegedyouthparticipateinsports.Todatehiscompanyhascontributedover15000indonationsandhelped2500youthacrossCanada.Itwassoinspiringlikewecanbesome-bodyanddosomethinglikethatsaidIsa-bellaBourquewhowantedtoattendtheconferencetofurtherinvestigatehergoalofattendingtheUniversityofCalgaryaftergraduation.Theystartedtakinginitiativeataroundourageandnowweseewheretheyare.Itscrazy.Aftervisitingthecampusandattend-ingsessionsputonbythevariouscollegesandprogramsBourqueisnowleaningto-wardsCalgarysschoolofathleticshousedinoneofthelargestkinesiologybuildingsinCanada.Holtorfisalsoleaninginthedirectionofki-nesiologybutwantstoapplytotheUniversityofAlbertainEdmontonaswelltogiveher-selfafewoptions.AndwhileVictoriaHeronstillfeelssetongettingateachingdegreefromtheUniversityofSaskatchewanvisitingtheschoolofmedicineinCalgaryopenedhereyestootherpossibilities.ItssomethingdifferentHeronsaid.Itkindofopensyoureyestowhatsoutthere.ButitwasntjustAlbertauniversitiesthatgottopitchtothestudents.JeremyVascaye-Evanssaidhesnowenamoredwiththeideaofattend-ingMcGillUniversityinMontrealbackedbythecitysreputationforartsandmusic.Itsjustgreattoknowyouroptionshesaid.Around850studentsfrombetweenGrades9and12attendedtheconferenceandawardsputonbyIndspireformerlyknownastheNationalAboriginalAchievementFounda-tionincludingagroupfromFortMcPherson.ApartfromtheconferencesessionstheyouthalsoenjoyedmusicalperformancesattheawardsceremonybyartistslikeTanyaTagaqandmeet-ingactorLorneCardinalwhohostedtheawards.AndwhenelderElsieYannickoriginallyofFortSmithwashandedalifetimeachieve-mentawardbythefoundationthestudentssaidtheywerelledwithpride.WhenitsaidFortSmithonthescreenwewerealllikewooBourquesaid.HeronsaiditwasgreatbeingabletomeetpeoplefromAboriginalcommunitiesacrossWesternCanadaandexperiencethediver-sityofculture.ItsgreatknowingthatyouhaveawholecommunitybehindyouthatwehaveInd-spiretheretohelpusHeronsaid.ByMEAGANWOHLBERGNorthernyoutharegettingasecondles-soninselfexpressionwiththeWhatsYourStorytheatredanceandsongworkshoptourbackforanotheryearintheNWTandthistimewithajauntintonorthernAlberta.WorkshopcreatorRenelttaArlukofAkpikTheatreisjoinedonceagainbyNewYork-basedsingerReneeBensononthetouralongwithrst-timerAlexTwinamodernandpow-wowdancerfromtheKehewinCreeNationinAlberta.Arluksaidtheongoingcreativeworkwithyouthistohelpthemndtheirvoiceatayoungageinordertoimprovetheircon-dence-somethingshewisheshadbeenmoreavailabletoherasateen.Itsjustreallyimportanttondthatar-tisticvoiceasanoptionshesharedwithTheJournal.JustfrommyownpersonalexperienceIfeellikeIdidntndmyvoiceuntilIwas19yearsoldandIfeellikeifIhadbeengivenopportunitiesIprobablywouldhavetakenthem...IfIcouldhavefoundmyvoiceatsay16or13maybethatwouldhavechangedsomeofthechoicesImadeasIwasgettingolderandmadememorecondent.Formeitwascondence.Ididntstartact-ingat19becauseIwashugelyself-conscious.Ihadanartisticvoiceandthatnevergotdis-covereduntilIwasmucholder.Throughoutthefour-dayworkshopyouthareencouragedtobringouttheirpersonalstoriesthroughafocusonsacredobjectswhetherthosebeconcreteitemsorspecialrelationships.ArlukBensonandTwinhelpcoaxthosestoriesintotherealmofperfor-manceledbythewishesoftheyouthwhogiveaperformanceonthelastday.ThestoriescanbetoldindividuallyorasacollaborativeensembleArluksaid.Itsprettyfree-owweretheretosupportthem...Welookatwhattheyreofferingandthenmakeitworkintosomethingthatscohesive.TheteamstarteditstourinYellowknifelastweekworkingwiththeteensfromtheYWCAsGirlspacebeforemovingontoFortSimpsonovertheweekendpartneringwiththeOpenSkyCreativeSocietyandtheThomasSimpsonhighschool.ThisweekthetroupecomestoFortSmithwherethetriowillputontheirownpay-what-you-canshowattheNorthernLifeMuseumandCulturalCentreWednesdayeveningbe-forebeginningworkwiththeyouthatUncleGabesFriendshipCentre.AsherhometownArluksaidFortSmithwillalwaysbeasiteforhercreativeyouth-basedprojectsbutespeciallynowduetothestringoftragediesthathasaffectedthecommunitysincethebeginningoftheyear.Theresbeen10deathssinceChristmasanditsdevastatingsoIjustthoughtwehavetogointothatcommunityArluksaid.Wehavetobringsomethingtofocuson.FromtherethetriowillheadtoFortMcMur-rayand10oftheregionssmallerAboriginalcommunitiestodosimilarworkshops-albeitonatighterschedule-inpartnershipwithKeyanoCollege.ItllbemoredemonstrativeArluksaidoftheAlbertatour.Theyreallywanttofocusmoreonthedanceelement.AftertheNortherntourisdoneArlukwillbejoiningBensoninNewYorkCitytotakepartinasimilarprogramBensonstartedwithyouthintheSouthBronx.Arluksaidherintentionistokeepthework-shopcomingbacktotheNorthyearafteryeartobuildalegacyofperformingartsprogramming.Myabsolutegoalistocreateaconsistencyofartscomingintocommunitiesshesaid.Alotofthingsareone-offsbutwithWhatsYourStoryspecicallybecauseitssoyouth-basedAkpikTheatrewouldliketocreatesomethingthathasconsistencytogetconsistentfundingandsupporttobeabletobringartistsintothecommunitiesonabasiswheretheyrecognizeustheyputthattimeasidetheschoolsgetin-volvedandthenwejustgettobuildonwhatwedidthepreviousyearwiththeyouth.SeveralofthegirlsinYellowknifehadat-tendedtherstyearoftheworkshopandArluksaidbeingabletobuildoffthatinitialexperi-enceincreasedtheircreativityandcondence.BecausetheyknowthatwerelisteningtothemandthatwerefollowingtheirleadtheyinvestArluksaid.ItsprettypowerfulstuffImnotgonnalie.Ittakesalotofworkbutitscompletelyrewarding.PhotoCarolynMatthewsEDUCATIONPOST-SECONDARYARTSCULTUREPERFORMANCEPhotoJamesMackenzieStudentsandteachersfromPWKHighSchoolinFortSmithdontheirbestfortheredcarpetatthe2015IndspireAwardsinCalgary.YouthfromYWCAsGirlspaceinYellowknifegetatasteofactingsingingandspokenwordduringWhatsYourStoryin2014.