'We will fight for hope': Music video project gives youth their voice
A group of youth from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation have created a music video with a message of hope for their community.
Fight for Hope was produced with funding from the RCMP's Family Violence Initiative Fund and help from N'we Jinan, a non-profit organization focused on giving Indigenous youth an artistic platform.
The original song references the community's struggle with addictions and returning to culture and ceremony to overcome challenges.
"I'm fighting for my life, let me catch my breath"
Madison Potts was one of the co-writers and appeared in the video.
"We did this to show other kids in our community… that we see the same things that they do," Melissa said. "We know what they're going through and it's okay to have a voice, to speak out against it, because it's the only way something like this is gonna change."
The community is dealing with a lot of suffering, including substance abuse and addictions.
Melissa Potts wanted to help the youth in her community cope with their feelings of grief and loss. She thought that a music or art project could encourage them and give them a voice.
"Trying to bring the hope back into the community, especially for the young ones, I think that's what really inspired it actually," Melissa said. "To just get them to do something so that we can at least say that you know, we're not giving up and we're gonna try to make this a better place to live for our kids."
With the help of David Hodges, a producer with N'we Jinan, the group came together to pitch ideas for the song and the storyline for 'Fight for Hope.'
"Breaking the cycle of these bad situations, I have a fragile mind but deep inside I’m changing"
The video project received a grant from the RCMP Family Violence Initiative Fund, which helps communities respond to relationship and family violence issues.
Sgt. Grant Kneller, the detachment commander with the RCMP in Mayerthorpe, felt it was a great opportunity to support young people in the area.
"I hoped that this could be a way to help break barriers with the youth and community as a whole in Alexis," Sgt. Kneller said in an email to CTV News Edmonton. "I feel this project gave the youth participants an outlet to share their views, their experiences and their hopes for their own futures."
RCMP members and community partners can apply for the funding every year. The community would like to continue a yearly arts initiative for youth.
"They will be the leaders of the community one day, so helping them find their voices was quite rewarding," Sgt. Kneller added.
"Look deep in my heart and I will stay true, and go back to what we once knew"
The video was screened at a release party at Alexis First Nation School and included a Q & A with the people involved.
The feedback the group has received has been overwhelmingly positive.
"A lot of people are really proud of us that we were able to do this, able to talk out against the problems in our community," Madison said.
All the people involved hope the message of returning to traditional ceremony to find healing will remain.
"It feels like there's something lifted, like something changed," Melissa said. "And I was really grateful to be part of that."