Creating change through art in Rankin

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The use of art to help create change was front and centre during a parent night art exhibition by a group of young girls who took part in the Get Art program last week at the Leo Ussak Elementary School (LUS) gym.

Get Art is an eight-week program for girls aged nine to 14 delivered by the Rankin Inlet Spousal Abuse Counselling Program.

Aiolah ittinuar, from left, Sydney Inukshuk, laquisha Makkigak, Danica Sammurtok, Cassidy Sammurtok and Lila Hunter address the gathering during parent night for the Get Art program at the Leo Ussak Elementary School gym in Rankin Inlet on Feb. 25.
Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Jennica Barcial said the focus of the program is to allow its participants to express themselves through art.

She said 11 girls took part in the program, doing a different art activity each week, as well as culturally relevant activities such as receiving advice from elders.

“They also took part in a really big project, making a video on bullying, which we screened during parent night, as well as going over a weekly summary of what they had been doing for the past eight weeks” said Barcial.

“We have mandated outreach programs, but Mary (Fredlund) and I decided to do something different and we came-up with this idea to reach a demographic we’ve never worked with before and still talk about topics such as healthy relationships, bullying, healthy and unhealthy families and friendships.

“McGill University then came in contact with us and started to fund us, which is why this project became as big as it is.”

Barcial said the girls were asked what issues they see in the community that they would want to focus on in the making of a video and bullying was what they wanted to highlight.

She said bullying is something that happens across all age groups, not just with kids.

“The kids never brought-up cyberbullying on the internet at all.

“The two types of bullying we focus on with the video are physical bullying and teasing, such as two or more girls teaming-up on one girl in a negative manner.

“The unique part of this project is that we didn’t give them a script or tell them what to do.

“The video was completely girl and group led.”

Barcial said the group was thankful to LUS for opening-up its gym and allowing them to hold parent night, because their office was simply too small to accommodate the event.

She said, however, the office was an intimate setting for the group meetings that encouraged interaction between the participants.

“We also really wanted the girls to feel comfortable in a space that does offer counselling so, in the future, it’s not an unfamiliar location if they ever need help for themselves or someone they know.

“This program definitely exceeded our expectations. We asked for 10 girls to join and we ended-up with 11 participating and 11 more on a waiting list.

“This was, sort of, just a random pilot project we put together but, when we received funding from McGill, the hamlet and the Northern store, it became a lot bigger than we thought it would be.

“We now hope to hold mini workshops in April, during which the older girls will act as mentors to the new participants and, big news – McGill University invited some of the participants to go to South Africa, where the original idea for this came from, to talk about creating change through the medium of art, so making the trip will be Haily May Ussak, Julia Isaak, Audrey Fredlund and myself.”

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