The creative arts – music, film, visual arts, dance, theatre, spoken word, literature, among others – are gradually being recognised as effective health promotion tools to empower, engage and improve the health and well-being in Indigenous youth communities. Arts-based programming has also had positive impacts in promoting health, mental wellness and resiliency amongst youth. However, often times the impacts and successes of such programming are not formally reported on, as reflected by the paucity of evaluations and reports in the literature.
The objective of this study was to evaluate a creative arts workshop for Tłįchǫ youth where youth explored critical community issues and found solutions together using the arts. We sought to identify the workshop’s areas of success and challenge. Ultimately, our goal is to develop a community-led, youth-driven model to strengthen resiliency through youth engagement in the arts in circumpolar regions.
Using a mixed-methods approach, we conducted observational field notes, focus groups, questionnaires, and reflective practice to evaluate the workshop. Four youth and five facilitators participated in this process overall.
Youth reported gaining confidence and new skills, both artistic and personal. Many youth found the workshop to be engaging, enjoyable and culturally relevant. Youth expressed an interest in continuing their involvement with the arts and spreading their messages through art to other youth and others in their communities.
Engagement and participation in the arts have the potential to build resiliency, form relationships, and stimulate discussions for community change amongst youth living in the North.