Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kilburn Hall - Workshops with Youth

One of the highlights of my life was giving two workshops at Kilburn Hall, a youth detention centre -- the first with young women, the second with young men . At the beginning of the day, one of the females remarked that she's "no good at this" ... and the end of the day she was very proud of her creation. I hope a seed was planted and she knows that she is capable of many things.

Here's a report written by Amanda Bosiak for the Saskatchewan Craft Council Newsletter:

"Masks allow a person to present a different face to the world. They can simultaneously hide a person’s appearance while revealing their inner nature.

When potters Teresa Gagne and Carole Epp developed a ceramics workshop at the Kilburn Hall Youth Centre, they settled on making masks as the ideal expression of creativity for the youths who have run afoul of the law.

The girls who worked with Gagne and Epp to mold clay into expressions of themselves chose to create masks expressing laughter (a clown), tradition (the trickster), and a harmony with nature (animals).

For many of the youth who come to Kilburn Hall, the programming provided there is often their first exposure to the crafts associated with their culture. The arts and culture programming provided there attempts to help these youth discover more positive ways with which to direct their youthful energies. In presenting workshops at Kilburn Hall, Epp feels she is offering the youth the opportunity to see options other than criminal behavior for their future and that craft can be a rewarding and potentially lucrative part of their lives. The goal says Epp, is “they see they can channel those positive things and build a life that's full of that creative spirit."

Because many of the youth at Kilburn are of First Nations origins, much of the programming is centered on First Nations culture. However, Kilburn Hall's Cultural Coordinator Adonica Anwieler feels it is important to educate the youth on their connection to all cultures and to have support from outside the facility. The clay mask workshops relate well with the existing cultural programming. "Traditional aboriginal people used material from the earth… [so we tied the art of clay] into the traditional teaching of giving back when we take from the earth,” explained Anwieler. “We made tobacco offerings and smudged to cleanse any negative energy before we began."

"It's been amazing," Anwieler says, "besides what it does for the facility it's great for the youth. The goal is to get them to participate and learn and have a creative outlet because they have so much time on their hands and it's important they have positive ways to use it."

Kilburn Hall Youth Centre is a secure custody youth facility in the city of Saskatoon, which holds males and females age 12-17 on remand or sentence. Three years ago, the Saskatchewan Craft Council received funding from the Cameco Caring Community Grant to implement a pilot project in soapstone carving at the facility, where members of the SCC could come in and contribute to Kilburn Hall's existing Cultural Programming, which focuses on Art, Culture and Healing. Funding from Cameco for the program has since continued making last year's weaving workshops and this year's clay mask workshops possible."

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