In February 2022, our CREation Community Grants team sent out a Q&A form to 2021 CREation grantees to capture their experiences creating and carrying out their projects. Today we are featuring responses from Egoles Anonymous, a group of three young leaders: Trevor White Grass, Nicholas Old Shoes, and Theo Hatch from Blood Tribe communities and Lethbridge, Alberta.
Q : Tell us about your group and project!
A : “Our group consists of three leaders: Trevor (Songwriter), Nic (Videographer), and Theo (Producer). We are all musicians, but our specialties are in parentheses. We created a music program to attempt to centre the art community on the reservation. We created a place where all musicians, rappers, and singers can come hang out and meet each other so that the youth know that there is an art community and that there are other youths wanting to collaborate.
Our role was to encourage the creation of music by taking care of everything that could potentially be a barrier in that process. Like original instrumentals, studio space and equipment such as mics and instruments etc., as well as video cameras, editors, and videographers. We do that all while showing them exactly how to do what we did, so the youth know exactly what to do if they ever felt like repeating or building on the process in their own work.
We also like to keep the fundamental elements of being creative, enjoyable and simple, as it can sometimes be complicated and stressful to create a song and carry it out all the way. We want our youth to only need their pen and paper to get started; we’ll support them with everything else they need to make that song happen. At the same time, we’re putting them in a position to meet like-minded artists and individuals in our studio space.”
Q : As the youth running the project, what impact do you hope it will have?
A : “We hope to lead by example, by showing others that it is possible to give back. You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference, you don’t have to have 10-20 years of experience, or an entire team of high-calibre employees to do something.
All three of us are 20-22 years old, with about 4-8 years of experience in our chosen fields. Before deciding to team up and collaborate on this project, we had all been focusing on our own individual careers and prioritized them to the highest importance. So, by combining all our knowledge and experience, we hope to trail-blaze with this type of movement and inspire other youth to set and create similar projects.
Depending on the success and future of this program, we hope to have built a foundation and community that other youth can use to build off and expand on what we already have. Breaking off into sub-categories and groups to cover ground on all areas of our needs and wants as a community. “
Q : What is something you have learned?
A : “I’ve learned how important and much needed this type of program is to our community back home. There seem to be only two routes for our youth to take; either you play sports or do great in school. There are obviously other routes you can take, but those two are the only ones that are supported in our community. And with the growing drug epidemic, more and more youth are losing the will to be active and pay attention in school, let alone have enough energy or support to show up to classes.
As an addict in recovery myself who has been in hardcore active addiction, I understand first-hand what it’s like to lose the will to be an athlete or to carry on into post-secondary education. Music and art have been my saving grace, it has become the form I express myself in, and it is what’s given me purpose and light when I had given up. I am not the only one; most of the youth on my Rez are the exact same way. We’ve gotten tremendous support from other organizations who were excited that we’ve included another element and path for the youth. Music and Art have now been added as another alternative right next to sports and schooling.”
Q : What is one piece of advice you would share with other youth who want to run a project?
A : “You can plan all you want and set every expectation you can set, but if you can’t be open to all the different possibilities that can happen, you won’t be able to improvise at a moment’s notice. I have a close friend who’s a teacher. She said for all the years she spent in a lecture hall studying the dynamics of a classroom, a lot of it went out the window on the first day of actually being a teacher in a real classroom.
The keyword here is adaptability. You have to be willing to fail because that’s where the real lessons are. You have to know wrong before you can understand what right is. For the first event we held for our music program, I spent weeks going over it in my head, I even wrote introductory speeches and curriculums for how the sessions would go. I must’ve thought out countless scenarios because I wanted to be prepared and ready for anything. Maybe one thing went how I initially planned, but everything else was improvised and made up on the spot to further suit the needs of everyone involved.
We gave ourselves room for failure, and room to improve by giving up this strict regimen and curriculum we had planned before. A small price to pay for the overall success and fun that went into the program after the first event. It was way less stressful when we approached it in that way. Improvise and adapt. Trust me, it can be really fun if you learn to enjoy yourself along with everyone else. You don’t have to stress just because you’re the one running the program.”
We are so proud of the heart-work our young relatives like Trevor White Grass, Nicholas Old Shoes, and Theo Hatch are doing across Turtle Island and are so lucky to be able to support them in this work. In a later follow-up, we’ve learned that as a result of their music sessions, they’ve secured a downtown studio to meet and a few youth participants formed a band. Way to go Egoles Anonymous!