North

'These young people want to heal': Music helps northern Quebec youth

Several youth from the most northern of the Quebec Cree communities have contributed to the Whapmagoostui Youth Album, which was just released on iTunes and Spotify. The songwriting and production project came together over the last year, funded by the Cree Nation Youth Council, as well as the local band.

Whapmagoostui Youth Album released on iTunes and Spotify

Ryan Kawapit sings and plays guitar on the Whapmagoostui Youth Album, which involved 11 young people from the most northern Quebec Cree community. (Submitted by Matthew A. Iserhoff)

Kaydie Dick says she feels "shy and a little bit proud" of a song she wrote and recorded in her northern Quebec community of Whapmagoostui for a new album.

Dick and ten other young people from the most northern of the Quebec Cree communities are featured on the Whapmagoostui Youth Album, which was released recently on iTunes and Spotify. The project came together over the last year, funded by the Cree Nation Youth Council, as well as the local band.

The 13-year-old said this is the first time she's done something like this and usually she sings to herself — in the shower, in her room and sometimes in front of her mom.

"I never sing in front of other people," said Dick, adding she was glad she pushed through her shyness and hesitations. 

"It was hard ... [but] it was a good experience."

Art is healing.- Matthew A. Iserhoff, producer

The album is one project of the Youth Action Program put together by Eddie Masty, Jr. and the Whapmagoostui First Nation Youth Department. The program also included cultural craft-making.

Leslie Dick and her daughter Kaydie. The 13-year-old says she really appreciated getting the chance to express some difficult emotions. (Submitted by Kaydie Dick)

For Dick, it was also an opportunity to write her own song, Takes Some Time, a song co-written by Matthew A. Iserhoff and Jade Mukash about overcoming difficult experiences. Takes Some Time also features Dick and Mukash on vocals.

Dick said putting the song together helped her express some difficult emotions. 

"It felt good to express my feelings," she said. "I never did that before."

Many of the youth involved in the album expressed painful feelings through their songs, according to producer Matthew A. Iserhoff.

"Art is healing," said Iserhoff, who lives in Whapmagoostui and won a Juno award for Aboriginal Album of the Year in 2011 with his former group, CerAmony. 

He said the popularity of other songwriting and music production programs, such as N'we Jinan and Nunavut Hitmakerz, show the format is a way to empower Indigenous youth.

"Having that creative outlet where they can release whatever it is they need to release, you [could] see the progress of the youth as we were working — how certain things were shedding off of them," said Iserhoff. 

It felt good to express my feelings.- Kaydie Dick, Whapmagoostui youth

He said it was very inspiring for him to mentor the participants — who ranged in age between 12 and 29 — through the songwriting and recording process.

"The immensity of how much these young people want to heal ... that gives you so much hope and light, seeing how young they are [and already] figuring this out," said Iserhoff.

The Whapmagoostui Youth Album is available on iTunes and Spotify. CD copies of the album will also be available in the new year. (Submitted by Eddie Masty, Jr.)

Leslie Dick is also impressed by her daughter Kaydie's songwriting skills and her ability to express her pain.

"I was touched by her way of reaching out and letting go of what she was carrying," said Leslie.

As for Kaydie, she said she hopes to be able to continue singing in front of other people and writing songs. 

Masty, the program organizer, said the proceeds from the sale of the CD's will go to the artists to encourage them in their music careers.

The program is expected to be back again in the near future.

Kaydie Dick, 13, from Whapmagoostui, Que., recorded this track for the Whapmagoostui Youth Album, available now on iTunes and Spotify. 3:37

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