Wapikoni Mobile: Creating videos empowers First Nations youth

Hundreds of First Nations youth are turning their lives around through the Wapikoni Mobile project funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's (AANDC) Family Violence Prevention Program.

Wapikoni Mobile is an innovative project that engages First Nations youth by using film and music as an intervention tool for youth dealing with domestic violence or consumption problems such as alcohol and drug abuse in their families. After the band council extends an invitation to Wapikoni Mobile to visit the community, the travelling studio works closely with many local partners such as schools, health center, primary care services, and community radio agents to deliver four consecutive weeks of practical workshops led by two filmmaking trainers and a youth worker. These workshops allow youth from across the country to freely express themselves through a video or a song they create and then present to their communities. This enables youth participants to become empowered, and to build their identity, pride and self-esteem. The workshops allow participants to speak freely and to confide about their family or personal situation. The speaking is a part of the healing process in the holistic approach advocated by First Nations and is a powerful tool for these youth participants.

The Wapikoni Mobile initiative is making positive impacts on the lives of hundreds of First Nations youth by giving its participants the opportunity to discover new interests that motivate them to return to or stay in school and pursue further education goals and a career. It has also brought beneficial effects such as decreased drug use and violence, and healthier lifestyles for the youth participants. The young women and men who go through the Wapikoni Mobile initiative come out with a positive experience. This may help prevent violent behavior toward women. Finally, through audiovisual and musical creation, the youth also have an opportunity to rediscover their language and culture.

"I feel that putting the things that are hard to talk about on the screen helps to deal with it. It also makes dialogue and awareness on these issues. It was a very positive experience for me, both personally and in a professional working manner. I would certainly attend another Wapikoni stopover. Wapikoni brings issues that the participants see around them to light for the whole community to see and think about and larger audiences as well."

- Craig Commanda,
Program Participant
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