On Mon. May 16, members of Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) youth drop-in centre gathered together at The Manitoba Museum for an evening of arts programming, dance, drumming, and theatre.
This year, participants worked in teams designing and delivering projects to community that would leave a legacy.
Five members of the program, dubbed Team Ign1te, created a Museum Event Night – Beyond Words. Andrea Shalay, Laura Bishop, Scott Young, Elizabeth Catatucan, and Mary Pidlaski shared a fun evening for IRCOM youth.
Youth were divided into three groups to rotate throughout the evening and try each art program. One of the best moments of the night was when the last group entered the drumming circle to warm up with percussionist Chris Scholl. He brought a drum for everyone.
“I have facilitated many groups over the past eight years ranging from 5 to 950 people and the experience that was shared with the students from IRCOM was probably the most intense sessions that I’ve hosted to date,” Scholl said.
“The energetic spirit in the room was powerful and engaging. These kids come from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and life experience yet there we were all creating one magical song together with such an alive intention. I think ‘wow’ would be the best way to sum it up. If you weren’t there, there is absolutely no way that I could effectively explain what happened,” he said.
Daina Lietold and Shannon Guile-Hardy taught the mime and physical theatre program. Lietold felt the youth were all really open to it. Even the ones who weren’t physically engaged at first still got it.
Bishop’s observations confirm this. She was amazed at how the kids were just zoned in enough to make themselves into trees. Phones were taken out a few times, but only to take selfies of themselves with statues in the museum. Some of the kids had never been to a museum before, but had heard there was a ship, so they were asking where to find it.
Jermano, a participant said his favourite part was hip-hop, because he liked all the moves. Mark Joseph Isla, one of the hip-hop instructors, explained how in one of his groups, the kids had all been friends and wanted to do a free-style battle.
“And so this guy just did it. He did a back flip, and lots of the other groups were trying to pass, so they stayed there … so they were just witnessing the battle,” Isla said.
All the groups were screaming with enthusiasm!
“It was amazing! The best part was dancing, it was fun,” said one of the participants named Jeremy.
“I got to learn new things and especially drumming was beautiful, I got to drum. I learned something about drumming. It was a good experience,” Jeremy said.
“I’ve never drummed before and acting the way I did today was very different, I’ve never done it before without talking, I just had to use my feelings and connection. I would do it again.”
Team Ign1te would like to help facilitate ongoing programming like this for IRCOM.
Gololcha Boru, Lead Programmer for After-School Program at IRCOM, believes youth should be exposed to as many things as possible to see what they like. Arts programming has been difficult because you must have a certain level of expertise to engage the kids, and it can be more expensive than say just grabbing a ball and taking the kids to a field to play sports. This is where there is a gap for the youth.
All facilitators of the Beyond Words event volunteered their time and expertise, including the offering of the Manitoba Museum venue, so the youth might have this experience.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds for IRCOM to hire these professionals to engage their youth further in the fall. It is not too late to make a donation. Donations may also be made in cash by sending a message to the Team Ign1te members on the page.
“Here in the ‘western’ world people tend to experience music quite passively watching ‘stars’ perform their art/clever marketing while we just stand in awe,” Scholl said.
“When you have an experience like the one we all shared with the drumming you really understand just how much we miss out while star gazing. I was very fortunate to be a part of what was shared at the IRCOM event through the magic that ensued. Again, wow!”