Aboriginal hip-hop artist Shibastik began working with youth after performing at a conference in Thunder Bay more than a decade ago.
With positive messages at the root of his beats, he was asked to speak at a youth detention centre. It was a success and from there he began working regularly with youth in custody and started his Healing with Hip Hop workshop.
He began to branch out to schools and stopped into Westmount Public School on Tuesday to perform and speak with Grade 7 and 8 students.
“It’s all about healing,” said the rapper from Moose Cree First Nation. “It’s about showing them the beautiful side to native culture. I want aboriginals to really understand their history and I want non-aboriginals to really understand our real history.”
Shibastik is always welcomed in schools and he finds youth really connect with his music and art.
In addition to his music, he also brings samples of his artwork.
He hopes the students walk away thinking about the Seven Grandfather teachings — respect, love, courage, wisdom, humility, honesty and truth.
“As a society if we did actually live by these teachings, the world would be a much better place,” he said.
Grade 8 student Haley Buckell found Shibastik’s presentation inspiring.
“I like this music a lot,” she said. “There is a lot of message in it to students.”
She said she admired how the musician respects everyone and everything.
“The land, animals, people, everything,” she said, noting he made a point to express that bullies often aren’t bullying without a reason.
“They aren’t just bullies, they have something going on at home,” said Haley.
Her classmate Shannon MacLeod enjoyed Shibastik’s paintings.
“I thought it was really cool how the paintings related to him in certain ways and how it expressed certain things,” she said.
“I think he’s really going to influence people through everything he does.”
Jakob Pereira liked how Shibastik was different from other rappers.
“He’s not like self-centred,” said the Grade 8 student. “He’s very giving to people and you could see that in the way he talks.”
Mackchin Bakis, also in Grade 8 at Westmount, agreed the rapper’s style was different than anything else most youth hear.
“We listen to hip hop and our kind of music and native music means something, how he expressed himself, where’s he from and how he coped with things along the way,” she said.