Culture Synk brings out the creative voice of youth

By: Michelle Brownridge April, 2012

The youth in the northern Saskatchewan Village of Sandy Bay felt they had nothing to do, or at least that is how they saw it until a group of artists known as Culture Synk came to the village for six days to create a collaborative music video project called Sandy Bay in Motion.

The music video project, funded through SaskCulture’s Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership project grant, was an opportunity for Culture Synk, to share their talents in music and sound recording, theatre art and film-making, engage with youth in expressing their creativity, as well as leaving a lasting legacy of cultural opportunity in the community.

The four artists involved share a collaborative approach to creativity. Michele Sereda, a theatre artist from Regina, says, “Individually, we have all worked with youth in diverse communities, using a collaborative process. We found that our individual philosophy made us ideal partners.” Along with Sereda, Culture Synk is comprised of: musician and composer, Ramses Calderon; Halifax filmmaker Ann Verrall, and film-maker Gabriel Yahyahkeekoot.

Culture Synk entered into the Sandy Bay in Motion project knowing that the best approach would be to remain open and flexible. The artists engaged the youth in a variety of activities, such as filming, sound recording and writing lyrics or rap verses, in order to create the music video. “During the six days we spent in Sandy Bay, we lived in the community so we were available and working all hours. Each day we would assess where we were with the project and what was needed, who was around, what they were interested in and their availability,” explains Verrall.

"There were two main rappers, Desmond and Anthony, who created a beat and a rap verse for the music that Ramses composed, they were our most consistent participants,” she explains. The main workspace for the project was a lodge that is normally used for sweats and the project was filmed in various locations in and around the community by the youth. The recording of the song was done at night in the lodge and there were many people who came out to watch. On the last day, Yahyahkeekoot and Verrall edited together a very rough assembly of the “music video” and an hour-long collection of footage. This was screened and left with the community.

Yahyahkeekoot says, “I just hope that they believe what they think, say and do matters. Maybe by teaching the youth our forms of artistic expression, it might help them to continue to work on and hone their ability to express themselves.” Calderon adds, “It’s like planting a seed that sooner or later will bloom. In fact, I have already seen some positive changes in some of the youth.”

The Sandy Bay In Motion project was made possible by the support of funders such as SaskCulture, supported by Saskatchewan Lotteries, as well as The Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society and the Canada Council for the Arts. Watch the Sandy Bay in Motion music video on YouTube or by scanning the QR code with your smart phone.