A group of young people from English River First Nation and surrounding reserves have a freshly-released music video that the whole community is proud of.
Some of their original songs are featured on the album “N’we Jinan The Gathering Volume II.” The album and music video for their song Caught in the Storm were officially released on Friday by the N’we Jinan music initiative.
The content all originated from English River’s youth leadership camp over the summer of 2014. English River, Beauval, and Flying Dust members took part in writing and performing the original song Caught in the Storm.
While the Montreal-based music mentors N’we Jinan were there to guide the creative process, it took the initiative of young people like Kacie Opekokew stepping up to write and perform the song.
The outspoken Opekokew, now 19, enjoys singing as a hobby.
“I decided to just go up there and have fun with it because it’s a new experience and I’m always open to new things and after that everybody else just kind of joined in and I guess you could say we kind of just opened up after somebody took the first step,” she said.
Music mentor, David Hodges, said N’we Jinan started doing workshops about five years ago and has focused in on aboriginal youths for about two years.
“It sets up an environment where the youth are kind of, they’re actually eliminating these barriers in terms of creating environments for self-expression and building confidence,” he said.
He sets up a mobile studio and shows youths, like those at Patuanak in 2014, examples of the kind of work they’ll be producing by the end of the workshop.
One personal transformation at the three-day Patuanak workshop really stood out to Hodges. He said rapper Thomas Maurice, a 21-year-old from English River First Nation, came into his own.
“He really believed that he was always meant to do (it) and the fact that the opportunity was right there for him in that moment was so much for him to take, that just that in itself was already a challenge. And him performing in front of the microphone he was literally in tears doing it because he was just so overwhelmed with it,” Hodges said.
The song Caught in the Storm covers some pretty dark topics like alcoholism, but Hodges points out that storms are temporary and the song ended up putting a positive spin on life’s struggles. The word “resilience” was a theme in the song.
“A lot of the times, words are the best way to really define emotions and define what kids are going through and then when you give them these songs once they’re complete they realize they just came up with these ideas and they’re all sort of ideas that came within then that that they’ve always had they just didn’t realize it was there,” Hodges said.
Opekekow said her family was impressed with the music video that was released on Friday, saying it’s been a point of pride for her grandma.
“She was like, ‘when I saw your video,’ she’s like, ‘my mouth just dropped’ and my grandpa said the same thing, and I’m just like ‘really?’ that kind of just gave me a little confidence boost,” Opekokow said.
Opekokew says it’s easier to pursue life goals after doing projects like this.
She plans to get a degree to become a heart surgeon, and is currently in school.
To see more from the ERFN Leadership Camp, check out N’we Jinan’s video here.
To see the full music video, follow this link.