First Nation young people from Manitoba Canada are going to Vancouver this week. They will be launching a new album that features songs they have written, recorded, and performed to inspire hope. These songs and videos highlight the challenges of living in small communities.
The two groups of teenagers are from Garden Hill and Oxford House First Nation communities. Two of the songs that are to be performed during their trip are “When the Dust Settles” and “Help You See.” The songs address the challenges of living in remote communities in Manitoba, Canada, and have hope as the main theme.
Charlene Weenusk is 16 and from Oxford House First Nation. This will be the first time she has left Manitoba. She is seen in the video for “When the Dust Settles” and sings. She also helped to record the song.
Speaking with CBC, Weenusk said about her experience, “It was a really amazing experience and I loved it and it was nice to get out how I felt about the community.”
Weenusk spoke about how the song addresses what it is like to be young and in a First Nation community and wanting to get out and find success. Even if you get out, she said that you want to remember where you came from and you want to find a way to go back to help your community.
Weenusk says she wants to leave her First Nation community and go to school so that she can continue working to help her community. She has tried to do things that are helpful to her Oxford House First Nation home already but she wants to do more so that she can help to make it a better place.
One of the most rewarding things about working on this project has been seeing the positive impact it has had on her First Nation community, she says.
The song “When the Dust Settles” was written and recorded by the young people of Oxford House First Nation. Weenusk and other young people got involved with the project when N’We Jinan ran a workshop in their First Nation community. N’We Jinan is a non-profit organization that has a mobile recording studio, and they help young people in First Nation community to make their own music videos. N’we Jinan also helped the young people of the Garden Hill First Nation to write, record, and perform the song “Help You See,” which also has an inspiring and hopeful message for First Nation youth and others in First Nation communities.
The song “Help You See” is equally inspirational.
The mission of N’We Jinan is as follows.
“To create original musical and visual works that encourage collective community voice and to cultivate identity through youth education programs that give young people a chance to be heard through a sharing platform built for social impact and justice.”
David Hodges, the director for N’We Jinan, first started this project three years ago in Quebec with Joshua Iserhoff. Hodges was a youth worker and hip-hop producer, and Iserhoff was a youth Grand Chief of the Cree Nation Youth Council in Quebec. They first worked with Cree teens in First Nation communities across the province. Since then, they have expanded across North America to work with First Nation communities and have helped young people to express their feelings about their lives and their challenges in over 30 remote towns.
Hodges says that the project allows the young people of First Nation communities to “engage on a level that speaks their language.” Everyone is welcoming, he says, and people are open about talking about the issues their towns address and the tribulations and trials that First Nation communities face.
The two tracks in the videos that are featured will be on N’We Jinan’s fifth album, The Silent War Volume 5. Tickets are now available for their performance in Vancouver.