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Leadership academy follows medicine wheel teachings.

EDMONTON

A new program that will build the artistic integrity and leadership skills of Aboriginal youth in Edmonton has been announced.

The OtiNikan Aboriginal Leadership Academy, to be operated by the Centre for Race and Culture, will put highly performing youth into artsoriented activities.

Christine Sokaymoh Frederick, a prominent Metis artist, is program coordinator for OtiNikan, which means "our future" in Cree.

"The program came about following the success of a similar program for the black community," said Sokaymoh Frederick. "We applied the knowledge learned from that program to one for Aboriginal youth."

The program was formed as a means to offer both a leadership aspect and to promote the artistic component.

Said Sokaymoh Frederick, "We recognize the rights we have today, to vote, to have clean water. Because I don't have to fight for my other rights, I have the luxury of being an artist, as the leadership skills of the generations before us have made that possible."

Sokaymoh Frederick feels Edmonton, and Alberta, and the Aboriginal community are all at a very exciting time in their existence.

"There are a lot of people who are much more willing to work with us, rather than bring in their own program," she said.

Alberta does not have an Aboriginal arts scene along the same calibre as Toronto and Vancouver, she noted.

"The talent is here. There's incredible talent in this province, but without a cohesive centre it's hard to develop it," Sokaymoh Frederick pointed out.

Local artists from all cultural background get their training in Edmonton but then go off to other centres to develop their careers where the arts scene is more established. This program will help in the immediate future by developing the skills of the youth, but it also has long-ranging effects that will continue to benefit the local arts.

The year-long curriculum takes a holistic approach by ensuring the young people explore cultural traditions and history alongside the development of skills and tools for establishing their already-existing artistic abilities. The program features all areas of the arts, including the visual and performing as well as stage and media craft.

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2011-2012 program which starts in September. It is offered at no cost to youth aged 14 to 25 and is funded by the Alberta Lottery Fund and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada.

"The participants will know, when they get up in the morning, not only what they are going to do that day, but also how they are going to do it," said Sokaymoh Frederick. "They can dream their dreams and then through dedication and with the help of multiple mentors, they will take the next step to success."

BY HEATHER ANDREWS MILLER Sweetgrass Writer

COPYRIGHT 2011 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Back to school
Author:Miller, Heather Andrews
Publication:Alberta Sweetgrass
Geographic Code:1CALB
Date:Aug 1, 2011
Words:455
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