Youth Engagement

Still Moon Arts Society (SMAS) has built its community-engaged arts practice in Renfrew-Collingwood by working with youth. Our neighbourhood is highly diverse, built by generations of immigrants from all over the world speaking many languages. Youth are our unifiers, communicators, and advocates. SMAS works with several distinct groups of youth on different creative and environmental projects according to the youths’ skills and interest. At the Windermere Climate Change Conference in December 2016, SMAS offered a workshop called “Theatre for a Changing Climate”, using theatre activities to explore how climate change makes us feel and how our feelings about climate change influence the way we make decisions.

Our Youth Committee is active as ever, with 12-15 youth at every monthly meeting and 3 subcommittees: Communications, Art, and Stewardship. After organizing the Harvest Fair at the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, the youth created works to sell at local craft fairs. Local salve “The Balm” and resin-coated plant jewellery were especially popular. Currently we are planning for the next season in our subcommittees; If you are interested in getting involved, please email the Youth Engagement Coordinator.

Coming up this spring we have a variety of exciting activities planned! In April, we will start an after-school program at Norquay Elementary, teaching Circus Arts to youth Grade 5-7 through the Windermere Community of Schools Program. We will also be offering a series of workshops in partnership with Collingwood Neighbourhood House, using the arts (weaving, storytelling, theatre) to do a cultural exchange of indigenous knowledge. Finally, in May, our youth will work with local mycologist and artist Willoughby Arevelo to install native mushrooms species in the Renfrew Ravine and learn about the importance of mushrooms in our ecosystems.

In the summer, our Stewardship Youth Committee will be planting and tending a dye/pollinator garden, and we will offer workshops using the dye plants we’ve grown! The Arts Youth Committee is also planning a neighbourhood mural tour and a workshop to design, make, and print with silkscreens. We intend to start a monthly weaving club to encourage appreciation for plant weaving and will host a couple of salve-making workshops with medicinal plants from our pollinator gardens. Finally, we’re looking forward to a 4-week spoken word/freestyling workshop called “Rapping the Ravine”.

In 2016 our most significant new project was participating in the Wild Salmon Caravan. We brought 5 youth and traveled with First Nations from the headwaters of the Fraser to the mouth, did ceremony, and heard the stories of the salmon and the people along the way. This transformative experience gave us a much deeper appreciation of the history of this place and the importance of the creative and stewardship work we have been doing with Still Creek. In 2017, we will host at least 4 salmon-inspired arts workshops and again will take a group of about 6 youth on the Wild Salmon Caravan. In 2017 this will take place during spawning time (October), from the mouth of the Fraser to the headwaters.