YAC Tour -Day 3: Montreal & Ottawa!
After a delicious brunch after an exciting night on Montreal, YAC said goodbye to their kind hostesses and traveled out of town to explore the Kahnawake aboriginal reserve where Artpreneurs purchased local materials for their crafts.
With all that YAC has seen and done on the tour so far, it hardly feels like only a few days have passed, or that the main goal of the trip has not yet been realized. That is, not until tonight! After hours and hours of interprovincial traveling and meetings, YAC was finally off to see the wizard of Ottawa! The Right Honorable Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General of Canada, hosts the Michaëlle Jean Foundation Power of Arts National Forum at Carleton University this weekend.
Immediately, as she herself stood to welcome people at the entrance, her accomplished eloquence and passion cast a spell of admiration over the attendees, and YAC, like everyone else, was enchanted and thrilled to be here!
The long-awaited conference began in Ottawa with a reception this evening, featuring deeply moving performances by the Imani Gospel Singers choir, an alternative dance choreographed by Rhodnie Desir, DEZAM founding director, and a song and inspiring presentation on his journey to success and international work by Halifax’s own Jordan Croucher (JRDN).
Madame Jean wore the hand-beaded aboriginal Remembrance Day poppy presented on behalf of YAC’s own Kilia Atenico while she made her opening remarks in beautiful French. ASL interpreters brought three languages to life across multilingual differences; as Jack Volpe, a winner of the TD Michaëlle Jean Bursary, said through a translator, “we want to focus on breaking down communication barriers to reveal the person and ideas underneath”.
Daniel O’Grady, National Manager of Community Partenerships & Investments at Enbridge Inc., gave the first speech about arts infusing community with energy; “[the arts] make you laugh, make you cry, poke your mind, and inspire your heart”. Following him was The Honorable Michael Coteau, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, who confessed, to the delight of the audience, that he listens to hip hop, Bob Marley, and Public Enemy. He spoke about arts as a part of citizenship, what makes us proud to be Canadian, and the power of arts to transform and heal.
Further remarks were given to tribute the power of the arts by John Osborne, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University, and Jean-Daniel Lafond, Co-founder, co-chair and executive director at the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.
YAC’s representatives were particularly inspired by Amanda Taylor, who went from living on the street to great success in spoken word poetry, and was awarded the TD Bursary by Alan Convery, TD Senior Manager of Community Relations, at the reception this evening. “Arts saved my life”, she told the audience.
After spending the evening meeting and reconnecting with like-minded organizations, YAC is fired up to delve into action plan implementation material tomorrow morning!