“An Open Appeal to Everyone I know” from Lee Maracle

“If you provide time, space, safety, and consistency, whoever your participants are, be they young or old, they will move into expressing authentic self. Once you can do that you can express stories about yourselves and about others.” (Columpa Bobb, Artistic Director, Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program)

Aboriginal Arts Program (photo credit: AAMTP)

An open appeal to everyone I know

There is a program in Winnipeg, Manitoba called the Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program [AAMTP] that serves the most underprivileged demographic in Winnipeg – Aboriginal children. I have witnessed AAMTP’s work with these children. Under the direction of Columpa Bobb, Artistic Director, they alongside veteran writers developed the play for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Launch in Winnipeg, Manitoba. [for a clip from the Moving Gallery follow this link: http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/scene/other/2012/05/31/columpa-c-bob/.]  At AATMP these young children acquire writing skills, performance arts skills, video and film making skills and are transformed from being underprivileged victims into children and youth who are confident and powerful good citizens. Unlike many programs for children, this one is free. The children of the North End in Winnipeg cannot afford tuition or even bus fares. Cultural Connection for Aboriginal Youth funds about half the cost of the program. These funds connected to Cultural Connection for Aboriginal Youth are in jeopardy. This means Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship is at risk of closing its doors, unless we can raise enough bridge funding. Manitoba Theatre for Young People cannot bridge the gap while the funds are up in the air.  [For CBC interview with Columpa Bobb regarding the freeze, follow this link: http://www.cbc.ca/player/radio/local+shows/manitoba/information+radio+MB/ID/2255434978/?sort=mostRecent]

Desperate for their program two of the children tried to help save it: “There was a beautiful little moment when two young girls from a grade 5 and 6 class held a little bake sale and raised $130.00 to try and save their program.” [Columpa Bobb, Artistic Director, AATMP] If our kids can do that, surely we can do something too.

I know some people. Some of you are close friends, some are family, some are colleagues, some I barely know, some have money, most don’t, but all of you have heart and so I am asking each of you to send $25.00 to Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program and send this appeal to two friends to keep the doors to the program open in the fall. I want my readership, those who have told me “they feel so inspired, empowered by my work”, to contribute as well. Our children need the empowerment and inspiration of Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentoring Program. Please send a note of well-wishing for our children to Columpa C. Bobb, Artistic Director, and send your cheque or money order to:

Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program
195 Young St.
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 3S8

Lee Maracle speaking at First Voices! First Women Speak! gathering in Ottawa, unceded Algonquin Territory on August 24, 2012

Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle is a writer, activist and performer from the Stó:lō nation located in the area now known as British Columbia. She is currently the Aboriginal Writer-in-Residence for First Nations House, and an instructor in the Aboriginal Studies Department at the University of Toronto. Lee is one of the founders of the En’owkin International School of Writing in Penticton, BC, and Cultural Director of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. She mentors young people on personal and cultural healing and reclamation. (from CBC 8th Fire)

For more info about Lee Maracle and her books: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/70695.Lee_Maracle

About the Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program: http://www.mtyp.ca/aboriginal-arts.cfm

Original Appeal Letter by Lee Maracle: