Artist to explore role hip hop plays in indigenous cultures with Sask. students

Click to play video: 'A new approach to teaching Saskatchewan students indigenous culture' A new approach to teaching Saskatchewan students indigenous culture
WATCH ABOVE: The Prairie Spirit School Division is trying a new and creative way to teach students about First Nation and Métis culture. As Jacqueline Wilson discovers, it’s part of the division’s first 'artist in residence' program – Dec 15, 2016

A hip hop artist is exploring the role his craft plays in indigenous cultures with Saskatchewan students.

Brad Bellegarde, who performs under the name “InfoRed,” has been named the Prairie Spirit School Division’s first “artist in residence.”

“Rather than just having someone coming in to talk about indigenous culture, indigenous history and first nations people. It’s a unique way to explore storytelling, culture and history in a way that’s relevant to a lot of teens across the world and that’s hip hop,” Bellegarde said from Martensville High School.

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The hip hop artist from the Little Black Bear First Nation in west-central Saskatchewan will be working in Duck Lake, Blaine Lake and Leask during the 2016-17 school year.

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InfoRed will be demonstrating how rap has become a contemporary form of storytelling and help them express themselves.

“My ultimate goal is to instill pride. Create a little bit of knowledge about indigenous cultures to non-indigenous students. Get them to not attach themselves to stereotypes that come through in day to day life or to what they read on the internet,” Bellegarde added.

“The message Brad brings is to be true to yourself, to be real and express yourself in that way. I think that’s the inspirational thing about working with him,” Dave Carter, Prairie Spirit School Division co-ordinator, said.

Bellegarde presented to the Prairie Spirit Teachers’ Association (PSTA) assembly in the summer on the theme “Rap as the New Buffalo: the role of Hip Hop in indigenous Education.”

The aboriginal artist’s work supports the school division’s overall strategy for First Nations and Métis education. Elements of the curriculum will also be addressed through writing and hip hop.

“We know that First Nation and Métis content needs to be in all aspects of the curriculum, it’s not a separate thing. Brad brings that integration,” Carter added.

Prairie Spirit ’s 45 schools in 28 communities around Saskatoon have a student population of over 10,000.

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