Transformation occurs when we hold spaces for courageous vulnerability and authenticity; particularly so, when youth are at the centre of it all.
In the evening of November 19, youth & community came together to witness the 11th annual A Youth Explosion at the Grand Theatre in downtown Calgary. At the heart of AYE is the storytelling, which shines in multiple ways, and this year, included performances such as spoken word, singing, digital arts and dance on the stage of the Flanagan theatre. The AYE audience consisted of returning community and youth, who have shown continuous support and connection, through mentorship, staying connected, or sponsorship for instance, but also consisted of new people, wanting to experience youth focused story-sharing. The lobby of the Grand open, for a youth artist’s exhibit and vendors’ showcase, sharing the space and celebrating their stories and skills through traditional and contemporary artistic creations.
Over 15 youth took the stage this year, and about 10 more in the lobby, each representing different backgrounds from Treaty 7 and other First Nations, all navigating life in Mohkinstsis. It was something to see, especially those sharing their story or craft for the first time in front of an audience.
We learn a lot from others and about ourselves when we work together in community. Each AYE is youth-led by the Bridges Indigenous Youth Team who met regularly with Jaiden, the AYE Coordinator and supporting staff at Canada Bridges. including the initial engagements sessions in community. We had many meetings with The Grand Theatre wonderful staff, who worked with us to develop an unforgettable night. The AYE Coordinator and Bridges staff planned with many facilitators and youth programming to plan the workshops together. Offering ceremony to the youth storytellers and performers, was part of the visioning of AYE, and the workshops helped to expose them to multi-facetted storytelling and creative expression. Two youth videographers from Siksika, Sky Bearhead and Davey Jerry, worked alongside our lead cinematographer, Alex Robinson to capture the beautiful evening. Our youth photographer Samuel Tartsah, snapped away throughout the day at dress rehearsal and the evening performance, lending their own unique perspective of capturing story.
As we move into a new year, we reflect in gratitude for the on-going and budding relationships, our funders and sponsors, because of you, we can do the work supporting impactful celebrations of youth stories and resilience, and for the young people standing in their truths, showing up with courage, and sharing gifts of wisdom stories.
Watch the Live Stream for AYE 2023 here: https://evt.live/aye-2023