June 21, 2022

​Indigenous Artist Helps Dinsmore Students Develop Their Own Voices

The students and staff of Dinsmore Composite School (DCS) are committed to relationship-building as part of the journey of Truth and Reconciliation. This year, DCS applied for a Saskatchewan Arts Board (SAB) Micro-Grant to connect with an Indigenous artist and celebrate the many positive contributions of Indigenous artists in Canada.

The overarching goal of this project was to provide an opportunity for students in our rural school to develop an understanding of Reconciliation and the importance of relationship-building by learning from an Indigenous artist with roots in Saskatchewan. The goal was to create awareness around issues impacting Indigenous people and build relationship/connection with Indigenous artists. Through a performance art collaboration, students at DCS were able to deepen their understanding of identity and find commonalities with students from other cultural backgrounds who live in Saskatchewan.

For this project, DCS connected virtually with hip-hop and spoken word artist, Zoey Roy. Zoey has been recognized nationally for her work in sharing anti-racism messages through spoken word poetry. A humorous presenter and a luminous storyteller, she is a lover of words, synthesizing knowledge and performance, she has spent the last 13 years traveling the globe sharing her gift of gab. Zoey is a multidisciplinary artist with an insatiable appetite for learning and growing. A career in the arts pairs well with her education. She has a Bachelor’s of Education, a Master’s of Public Policy and is now embarking on a PhD in Education. Learn more about Zoey here.

Under Zoey’s guidance, students in Grades 3-8 learned about spoken word performance poetry and the power of using this form of art to connect and collaborate. To kickstart the creative process, Zoey shared a spoken word performance created by Grades 5-8 students from Kawacatoose First Nation. These students had created a video recording of their spoken word performance, which featured lyrics focused on identity in partnership with Globe Theatre. DCS students watched the Kawacatoose video and then began to develop their own spoken word identity poem in response.

To create our poem, Zoey met online with different multi-grade classrooms throughout the day. Each group was tasked with writing an eight-bar stanza. Students brainstormed words that described them, their interests and their unique rural identity.

Zoey taught students about rhythm and rhyme and students collectively selected a sound-track for their stanzas. Throughout the creative process, Zoey modelled the sound of the spoken word performance so students could hear their words alongside a hip-hop beat.

Originally, the plan was to bring all classrooms together virtually during the last period of the day to perform their stanzas for each other and put the entire school poem together. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we were unable to complete the final steps of the project. Nonetheless, each classroom produced a spoken word stanza that represented their unique identity on the Canadian landscape and students at Dinsmore Composite School had an opportunity to collaboratively create a piece of performance art.

DCS is grateful to the Saskatchewan Arts Board for their grant program and for providing us an opportunity to learn from Zoey this year. Her enthusiasm for spoken word performance and engaging creative process resulted in a positive learning experience for DCS students!