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Anti-racism concert in Regina [Article]

7th Generation's anti-racism concert for students

Published in the Regina Leader-Post, June 11th 2008

Regina, SK – The Conexus Art Centre was filled with screaming Grade 7 and 8 students at a concert Wednesday.

But it wasn’t for the artists’ half-naked backup dancers or latest bling-bling. It was for the Canadian aboriginal hip-hop group 7th Generation and their lyrics about racism, discrimination and breaking down stereotypes.

On a stage decorated by dreamcatchers and posters made by students from Elsie Mironuck School and Muscowpetung First Nation’s Education Centre, the performers had the crowd of 2,000 on their feet enthusiastically waving their hands in the air.

Students from Regina Public Schools, Piapot, Carry the Kettle, Standing Buffalo, and Muscowpetung First Nations schools nodded their heads in unison as the group’s members told them to be “proud to be who you are.”

The concert was part of the Blasting Thru Stereotypes project that was started last year by Trina Cobbledick, a teacher at Mironuck.

“Last year it all started when I was reading the infamous Maclean’s article about inner-city Regina,” Cobbledick explained. “The kids started talking about all these misconceptions about the inner city. I thought, ‘It’s time to start bridging those gaps and bringing the different kids together.’ It just took off from there.”

Last year the project involved a concert for 700 students at Scott Collegiate.

This year SGI Canada got involved as a sponsor, which allowed the project to grow and attract high-calibre performers, Cobbledick said.

Before 7th Generation hit the stage the students were in a more sombre mood as they watched a presentation by Sol Guy of MTV Canada’s 4Real. The reality show has Guy and various celebrities travel around the world to see the difference that young leaders are making in places like Liberia, Haiti and Brazil.

“I don’t like if someone comes and wags their finger at me and young people are not a lot different than we are,” Guy said. “They can dissect b.s. from really far away, so if you’re truthful with them and honour them being here then you can get a good reaction.”

Kasp, of 7th Generation, agreed.

“If you sit there and try to preach at them saying, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that,’ they ain’t gonna listen,” he said. “But if you speak from the heart then they’ll listen, they’ll know it’s real, it’s not made up.”

As part of this year’s project students from Mironuck and Muscowpetung partnered together throughout the year to learn about each other and break down barriers caused by discrimination and stereotypes.

Rachel Schuster, a Grade 6 student at Mironuck, said events such as this are important “so it can prove that the stereotypes and racism is still there and we still have to fight it.”

Wyatt Young, a Grade 6 student at Muscowpetung, said that talking about discrimination is important because it helps people see others differently and make friends with people they wouldn’t normally meet.

For 7th Generation it’s important that youth audiences embrace the positives in life and not fall into the trap of the “gangster bling-bling” lifestyle.

“The youth are our future,” said group member Zane. “Teaming up with a hip-hop act like ourselves who try to lead a positive lifestyle and showing young kids that you don’t have to be pressured into meeting a certain stereotype in order to fit into a genre of music, that’s really important.”

Written by C. MacLeod for the Regina Leader-Post
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