A young First Nation group which performs energetic dance routines combined with speaking presentations between songs, performed for an audience at Kamsack Comprehensive Institute (KCI).
On February 7 the Brotherhood First Nation (FN) Hip Hop group of St. Theresa Point, a fly-in reserve in Northern Manitoba with a population of around 4,000, presented a powerful message to those in attendance.
Solomon Harper, Logan Mason, Jarrett Monais, Joshua Wood, Zareck Mason, Sonny Mason and Teagan Mason, ranging in age from 16 to 18, began a dance group on their remote northern reserve in 2015.
They chose Hip Hop music and choreographed all of their own moves. When they first began performing they “didn’t make a big impression,” but they were enjoying what they did, and soon began to incorporate messages into their routine.
“We felt we needed a purpose,” said Harper, the group’s frontman. “We started to include a message to raise awareness about issues like bullying, suicide and drug and alcohol abuse.
“We were very impacted by a family friend who committed suicide. We knew we had to use our performances to show others that you are loved, that people care for you, that you are never alone and there is always someone to reach out to.
“No one can take that from you,” Harper said emphatically. “Learn to love yourself.”
He encouraged people to “put you fear aside” and reach out to someone and talk about problems and not keep emotions bottled up inside.
Their song One More Light was a message to let the audience know there is always help to be had. “Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs,” he said. “It may dull the pain for a bit, but the problems stay. I urge you to get help. You are loved.”
The high energy performance left the members of the group almost breathless between songs, but the young men were determined to speak their message, and between long-drawn breaths, continued to keep the dialogue going with their audience.
The very personable and sincere connection which the group established early on with the audience had the crowd “making some noise” in appreciation.
The group is beginning to be noticed for their YouTube videos, some of which have gone viral. This was their first performance in Saskatchewan, arranged by Jamie Desjarlais, outreach worker at Cote FN Health, together with Rayne Townsend, Indigenous student achievement coach at KCI. Most of their performances have been in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.
Harper said they have been winning competitions, but they feel their message is the most important part of their performances.
The youngsters all attend high school in Winnipeg.