As the accolades continue to come in for Darkspark’s Four Directions Project, Rankin Inlet students are featured on the latest song to be released as a single, Taught by the Best.

The tune has been featured on the Spotify Indigenous Music playlist which has more than 10,000 followers, as well as Apple Music.

Mia Autut lays down a vocal track to one of the songs produced by a group of students and the Darkspark team in Rankin Inlet on Dec. 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of Darkspot

Darkspark was awarded with the prestigious Intercultural Innovation Award by the United Nations Alliance of Civilization and BMW in Madrid, Spain, on Dec. 10, 2019, recognizing Darkspark as a global leader in promoting intercultural understanding.

Darkspark, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of 10 selected organizations recognized worldwide for the award, following a competitive selection process with over 1,200 applications received from 128 countries.

Darkspark spokesperson Jenna Rogers said being recognized internationally by the United Nations is pretty significant.

She said the project focuses on empowering youth to speak about issues with their own voice, as opposed to having someone else speak for them.

“It’s all about empowering the youth perspective and their experiences,” said Rogers.

“The making of the music is an education-based process and having elders involved in the project is really important.

“The elder voice is really crucial for Darkspark teams that travel to the communities, and they even have a lot of recordings from the elders on the EP (extended play) they released.

“Including the elders on the EP not only highlights their voices, it also shows that they’re an important part of the learning as well as passing on their knowledge and traditions.”

The Intercultural Innovation Award supports Darkspark extending its unique accomplishment and method with The Four Directions Project to other racialized youth and communities world-wide.

The Four Directions Project, a cross-cultural Canadian colonial history project – of which grade 7 and 8 students at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik (MUI) in Rankin Inlet are a part of – that elevates the voices and perspectives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth through music and digital story-telling, contributes to an important cross-cultural conversation across Canada, inspiring audiences to listen, learn, understand and actively invest in recovery and reconciliation.

Darkspark’s innovative method of community building, education and empowerment through music and media used in the project has created a blueprint to help and empower communities globally.

The program helps participating youth discover how colonial and stereo prejudices were created, are maintained and may be broken.

Rogers said including the elders also highlights the fact that the team members are not coming in and essentially colonizing an educational song-writing process.

She said the Darkspark team members make it evident from their arrival that they want to work with the community during the process.

“From what I’ve heard in feedback from the kids taking part in the project, is that they definitely do feel empowered through being able to speak on the issues and then having the music distributed by worldwide platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

“I think it shows that giving them a voice and a platform where people listen to them, makes them feel like they’re really being heard and recognized.

“That feeling will continue to grow as we get more coverage on national radio that gets syndicated to the United States.

“Music is a universal language and just having the platform is important to having the voices of youth heard.”

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