Rapping in diiɁdiitidq: students find voices and pride in music video project

Teenagers at Ditidaht Community School wrote and recorded song in English and their traditional language because 'we want everybody to know that we are still fighting for our culture,' student says.

'We want everybody to know that we are still fighting for our culture'

Ditidaht Community School students recorded Let Us Not Worry with the N'we Jinan mobile recording studio project, which has produced music videos with Indigenous youth in communities across North America. (N'we Jinan)

Renae Tate didn't care for the sound of her own voice.

Larissa Lamb loved to rap but couldn't imagine doing it in front of a group.

Now the two grade 10 students from a tiny Vancouver Island First Nation are front and centre with classmates, performing in a new music video released this month.

"I actually cried when the video came out," Tate said.

The video titled Let Us Not Worry was produced with the support of N'we Jinan, a non-profit music initiative that brings a mobile recording studio and a video production team in to schools and youth centres in Indigenous communities across North America.

In October, the team worked with the students from Dididaht Community School in Port Alberni to set to music a poem written earlier by Grade 9 student McKenna Amos.

Grade 10 student Renae Tate said her teachers inspired her to face her fears about singing. (N'we Jinan)

Tate said she felt the poem conveyed the feeling that the community was worried about the future instead of focused on the present. 

She credits her teachers for helping her overcome shyness and inspiring her to face her fears about singing.

 "I love the video," she said. "I'm actually proud of how it came out."

'Now I'm confident'

Lamb said that although she enjoys rapping, she didn't think she could perform in front of a group until the video producers pushed her beyond her comfort zone.

"It really helped a lot because now I'm confident," she said.

Much of the video is in the Ditidaht traditional language, which was familiar to Tate.

She has been hearing and learning the diiɁdiitidq dialect of her father's side of the family since kindergarten, as well as the c̓išaaʔatḥ dialect of her mother's Tseshaht heritage.

For Lamb, it's a new experience to be learning her Indigenous language, "but I'm starting to get the hang of it and it's fun."

Student Larissa Lamb says she's new to learning the Ditidaht traditional language, which features prominently in the music video, but she's starting to get the hang of it 'and it's fun.' (N'we Jinan)

"We want everybody to know that we are still fighting for our culture."

The teenagers said they're excited about performing the song live at the N'we Jinan Festival, April 20-21 in Vancouver, for the release of the as-yet-untitled sixth album of music created through the project. 

The program, run by Montreal-based music producer David Hodges, was created several years ago to encourage youth in First Nations communities to pursue music and the arts.