Mikw Chiyâm: Cree School Board Arts Education

Arts programming for a new generation // Storytelling through the Arts


The Quebec Cree School Board has initiated the development of an Arts Education Concentration Program – Mikw Chiyâm – to be implemented in all their high schools over the course of five years. This interdisciplinary enrichment program aims to increase student retention by reinforcing Cree identity through artistic expression. Our aspiration for the program is to inspire youth by creating contexts for students to collaborate with professional Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. Four intensive five-week creative residencies will be offered in schools during the academic year. This program is projected to take place in three CSB high schools in Northern Quebec for the 2016/17 school year.

This program promotes art literacy, art appreciation, and collaboration by bringing together students, artists, teachers and community members in positive learning spaces where creative initiatives can flourish. By inviting professional artists to work collaboratively with teachers to design and implement interactive programming, we hope to encourage students and teachers to learn from and alongside artists.

This program is designed to increase students’ interest and attachment to school by providing an alternative space for creative learning. Our overarching goals are to promote accountability and to empower students by providing them with opportunities to discover, build and share their personal and collective voices through the arts. While being introduced to diverse artists (musicians, visual artists, actors, spoken word artists, filmmakers, dancers, multimedia artists, traditional artisans, etc.), Cree youth will explore themes such as storytelling, expressing personal and collective voice, and spreading personal messages on a larger scale to create effective and meaningful artistic productions.

Throughout the creative residency, the artists-in-residence will also produce creative work(s) that aligns with the projects that the students are being asked to create. Thus, inviting students to learn through observation and interaction with the artists’ creative processes.

The program culminates at the end of each residency with a showcase where students and artists-in-residence will have the opportunity to share their work with their immediate community. In addition, students will be invited to apply to the annual N’we Jinan Festival; a celebratory event showcasing the dynamic talent in the Eeyou Istchee.

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