Indigenous youth art event will share mental health experiences at Calgary drive-in

·2 min read
The annual event, A Youth Explosion (AYE) provides opportunities for young Indigenous people to express themselves artistically. Above is an original AYE painting by Keegan Starlight.  (Canada Bridges - image credit)
The annual event, A Youth Explosion (AYE) provides opportunities for young Indigenous people to express themselves artistically. Above is an original AYE painting by Keegan Starlight. (Canada Bridges - image credit)

An event for Indigenous youth to share personal stories in an artistic way will be held drive-in style this Saturday.

The 10th annual A Youth Explosion (AYE, held at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino in Calgary gathers Indigenous youth from across southern Alberta to share their experiences.

Pelletier Medel, the organizer of the event and youth coordinator at Canada Bridges, said the event has had a lasting impact for those who've performed over the years.

"It's a really unique opportunity for Indigenous youth voices to be heard and valued," she said.

"Some are sharing through dance, through singing, through piano, through just speaking or spoken word."

Medel is a past alumni of the event, and said she felt an "amazing ripple effect" after being part of the process.

Shannon Smith
Shannon Smith

"I was a teen who really struggled with mental health, but also just like perfectionism and just feeling so lost and isolated," she said.

"I shared my story for the first time in 2013 when I was a youth, and that was the first time I ever shared my story. I felt like the mask came off."

This gave Medel the passion to encourage others to share their journey with mental health.

"We love seeing them move on to bigger and greater things and I think when we all come together, we create this community and we can support each other," she said.

Canada Bridges
Canada Bridges

Tyra Crosschild, 21, will be sharing a short film about mental health.

She was diagnosed with social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder at 14, and said at the time it was too difficult to leave her house or go to school.

"So it's been really hard, but like, I've kind of overcome a lot of it," she said.

"I have coped with it a lot better and found ways to deal with it properly."

Canada Bridges
Canada Bridges

The short film she will be presenting is based off of a poem she performed in 2019 about anxiety.

"We kind of altered it to where it's not just about anxiety but mental health in general and how other people can relate to it," she said.

A Youth Explosion 2021 will share pre-recorded stories on the big screen Saturday at 6 p.m., and will be available on livestream.

With files from The Homestretch.

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