Cat Lake youth self-express through song, produce video

Arts-based healing program exploring options for safe relaunch amid pandemic.

Love, togetherness, family values and connections to nature.

That is what youth from Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario wanted to write and sing about through a self-expression program that culminated with the production of their own music video.

Their song Run Free debuted on YouTube on March 25.

“Basically they said, ‘You should know what you want to write about and then you could take a list of words that rhyme and start using that,’” explained Danyelle Wesley, a child and family prevention liaison with the Cat Lake band, about the lyrical guidance kids received.

Artists from N’we Jinan produced the music and the video with help from children aged 8 to 14 in partnership with GSK, a healthcare company and Save the Children Canada’s art-based Hurt and Healing Program.

Due to social isolation guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has been temporarily put on hold. However, Save the Children Canada and Cat Lake community members are exploring opportunities to relaunch remotely using technology and media platforms such as radio.

Cat Lake First Nation is about 400 km north of Thunder Bay.

Asked how the kids are doing since the pandemic began, Wesley said she sees some of the children who appeared in the video outside playing within the community and said they appear to be happy.

She hopes to help with the program again when it returns in a modified format.

As to how the kids feel about sharing their art with the world, Wesley said, “I think they’ll be super proud, along with their parents.”

Allana is a graduate of the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University and the new media journalism program at Sheridan College. She worked at Sudbury.com and TVO before coming to APTN National News where she now covers Indigenous stories in Southern Ontario as a video journalist. McDougall is a member of Hiawatha First Nation.