Sask. First Nation youth release highly personal hip-hop video

The video is a collaboration between a group of youth from the Kawacatoose First Nation and a Quebec music organization called N'we Jinan. The goal of the project is to help First Nation youth explore music in an educational format.

Kawacatoose First Nation kids build music skills — and confidence — through project

The group of youth sit with N'we Jinan producer David Hodges while creating the video for "Many Paths." (Reona Brass)

A group of young people from the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan has released a hip hop music video highlighting some of the issues they face on the reserve, while also bringing a message of hope and finding strength in their Indigenous roots.

The song entitled "Many Paths" was written, recorded and filmed on the first nation, 100 kilometres north of Regina, by 10 students from the Asiniw-Kisik Education Complex. Not only does the video illustrate music written by the youth, but it was also shot with a cultural perspective.

The video is a collaboration with a non-profit organization from Quebec called N'we Jinan. The N'we Jinan's Canada tour is an interactive music initiative that brings together hip-hop and music education. It travels throughout Canada with its mobile studio and music expertise, visiting First Nations. They produce, shoot and work with the youth from beginning to end.
Youth from Kawacatoose First Nation pose for a photo after a performance. (Submitted by Yolanda Dustyhorn)

David Hodges, the founder of N'we Jinan, is travelling to several First Nations across Canada helping students learn, explore and try their hand at making music.

"This project is to really demonstrate the artistic capacity that kids can have in a school environment …They have all this artistic talent that is not being nurtured or developed," said Hodges.

While the program was intended to help educate youth about music and the art of production, it also gave them the space to be able to explore self-acceptance and find their voice.

For Sky McIvor, being apart of the video helped her build self-confidence.

"I just always thought I would always be one of those people who stayed in their room singing to themselves," said McIvor. "I never thought I would actually be a part of a music video, but I guess I did it, and it was amazing."
N'we Jinan gave the youth a chance to write their own lyrics. (Submitted by Reona Brass)

Since the song's release, the group has travelled around the province performing "Many Paths" for conferences and events.

The experience of performing and showcasing their song gave the students confidence, and allowed some to overcome anxiety, while fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"I'm glad I did this. It got me out of my comfort zone and helped me with my shyness," said Rhiannon Dustyhorn. "I was able to conquer a fear, because that was like one of my biggest dreams since I was a little girl."

The Kawacatoose youth are now fundraising for a trip to British Columbia, where they will participate in a final N'we Jinan youth conference.

There, they will meet up with Hodges and other N'we Jinan crew, as well as other First Nations youth who made their own videos, to debut their song in a finale concert on April 22.

About the Author

Penny Smoke


Penny Smoke works with CBC Saskatchewan, and previously with CBC's Afternoon Edition and CBC Indigenous.