Manitoba

Indigenous dance group in Manitoba offers free performance to Attawapiskat First Nation

The manager of two Canadian indigenous dance groups in Manitoba is offering a free performance for the people in Attawapiskat First Nation in hopes of helping young people there cope with a suicide crisis.

The Asham Stompers and Sagkeeng's Finest offer free concert to help youth cope in Attawapiskat First Nation

The Asham Stompers were formed in 2002 and has been doing more than 100 Jig and Square dance performances every year. (Arnold Asham)

The manager of two indigenous dance groups in Manitoba is offering a free performance for the people in Attawapiskat First Nation in hopes of helping young people cope with a suicide crisis.

A state of emergency was declared in the isolated Ontario First Nation  last Saturday after reports of 11 suicide attempts in one day.

Arnold Asham is the manager of Asham Stompers and Sagkeeng's Finest. He says he wants to bring more awareness to issues that continue to plague First Nations communities.

"All these communities are having issues," he said. "These young kids struggling with these issues, we're going to try and help bring at least awareness to it, if not hope, to the kids," said Asham. 

"When we got stars like Sagkeeng's Finest to win a quarter of a million dollars on Canada's Got Talent, I mean these kids see them, and they're lined up to sign autographs and they're just so excited about an opportunity to see a live performance," Asham said.

"We would like to give them a performance and hopefully we can find an airline that will charter us in." 

Asham said the cost of flying into remote communities can be costly but adds he will pay for the flight out of his own pocket even if he can't find an airline to help.

He says he wants to fly both his dance groups to the First Nation this weekend.

Asham said he has faxed a letter to the chief of Attawapiskat First Nation, Bruce Shisheesh, but as of Tuesday afternoon he had not received a response.

The Asham Stompers is a Winnipeg-based dance group whose mission is to preserve the history of the Métis people through the traditional dancing of the Red River Jig.

Sagkeeng's Finest is a contemporary dance troupe made up of three indigenous teens from Sagkeeng First Nation.

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