If we may step outside the traditional boundaries for a moment, one thing that has always somewhat befuddled me during the past two decades is why we don’t see more of a push for the performing arts in our region.
Their involvement, in many cases, leads to a noticeable spike in their self-confidence, as well as their communication skills and their ability to work together in a way that can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Equally important is their sense of belonging; of being part of something they enjoy and finding their place among the collective.
The untapped talent in the Kivalliq is significant, and if ever there were a group of youth with stories to tell who could flourish in their storytelling with proper direction, it’s this region.
However, to me, the greatest gift I have witnessed the performing arts bestow upon youth in this region, especially in the hamlet of Arviat, is that of self-expression and self-awareness.
There is one comment over the years that kept resurfacing as I spoke with different young members of the Arviat Drama Club out of John Arnalukjuag High School under the direction of drama teacher Gord Billard.
It may have been phrased a little differently by each young thespian but the message was crystal clear: their involvement with theatre had lead to them being comfortable with just being themselves around others – for the first time in their young lives for more than a few!
That is huge for teenagers from Gander, Nfld., to Vancouver Island, B.C., and all points in-between, but, perhaps, nowhere more important than areas where isolation is the rule rather than the exception.
A thriving performing arts community offers its youth another path on their journey to self-discovery and awareness. It is a path anchored by imagination, fuelled by emotion and driven by passion.
While no one can contest the fact the Kivalliq is driven by sports – and we’re a better region for that – there remains a major void between sports and the youth who aren’t inclined to drift in that direction, as well as those fortunate enough to be equally at home in an arena, on a stage, or in a gymnasium.
A solid infusion of a performing arts program across the region would go quite a ways in helping to begin filling that void.
The more youth we have who are comfortable and confident in being themselves, the more a stronger sense of community begins to pervade the entire region and the stronger it becomes.
Inclusion and self-expression are powerful motivators, and having access to a solid performing arts program would open numerous windows of opportunity through song, dance and theatre for those who have something to say, be that today or tomorrow, and those still looking for their voice.
We have rising talents across Nunavut right now who are starting to steal a little taste of the regional and national limelight, and they truly are but the tip of the iceberg.
The development of a solid, well-presented and continual performing arts program across the region would give the chance to shine to a number of our youth, help more youth to be comfortable with just being themselves, and maybe even help polish a diamond or two to shine brightly in the future.
Food for thought.