Mount Sentinel students perform From the Heart: One Day. One Circle last year at the Capitol Theatre. Participants for the follow up are now being sought. Photo submitted

From The Heart, a next chapter in Kootenay youth making a difference

Andrea Mann talks about the follow up to last year’s project

Submitted by Andrea Mann

From the Heart: Fire & Flow is a new project in the West Kootenays seeking Indigenous, non-Indigenous youth of all racial and sexual identities ages 15 to 30 to join in collaborative learning for the next several months.

The youth will work with video, art, poetry, spoken word, hip hop and music through weekly collaborations with artists, Elders, and knowledge keepers. Their interests and process will define an end product, which may take the form of a film or website to be shared with the community in the spring.

In some ways, this is another turn of the circle of the From the Heart: One Day. One Circle project pursued by students at Mount Sentinel High School last school year. However, with a new group of youth, many new team members, and changed global circumstances, there is much to be discovered to deepen its initial focus on Truth and Reconciliation.

Both projects have been funded by VIDEA, a Victoria-based human rights and social justice organization. This year, local organizations supporting this work also include the Nelson Public Library and The Capitol Theatre.

From the Heart: Fire and Flow deepens the community-based connections since there are many new volunteers who witnessed the initial performance and were inspired to become more involved in social justice learning and action as a result. This speaks to the power of youth voices, and their critical call to action — we need to face the dark truths of colonial history, take a stand against the continued injustices experienced by Indigenous people, and pursue urgent climate action.

For all its strengths, From the Heart: One Day. One Circle did not explicitly name racism or white supremacy, an omission that became glaring in retrospect, as Black Lives Matter protests brought global awareness in subsequent months. This revealed ever-present layers of privilege and denial, and as the producer and main writer for this production, I take responsibility for righting this wrong.

Through connections with the newly formed West Kootenay People for Racial Justice, From the Heart: Fire and Flow will be guided in setting a more balanced context within which to pursue Truth and Reconciliation.

As a result, the youth will have our full presence and support to face the challenging realities of current events. While fires of climate change burn along the west coast, and the metaphorical fires of resistance burn against white supremacy and injustice, we will seek transformation together. From the Heart: Fire and Flow will build connection and resilience for hope, healing and solidarity across bridges of difference.

To learn more and get involved, check out this video and contact FTH.Kootenays@gmail.com.

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