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Getting creative on Friday nights with Nakai

New drop-in program focus’ on First Nations teachings and creativity
Claire Ness performs at Nakai Theatre’s 2021 Pivot Festival in Whitehorse. Participants in Nakai’s Together Today Creative Friday’s program could have their work shared at the 2022 Pivot Festival. (Courtesy/Nakai)

High school students in Whitehorse looking to explore their creative side might want to make their way to Yukonstruct on Friday evenings for the next few months.

Beginning Oct. 8, Nakai Theatre is set to host Together Today Creative Fridays, a drop-in program at Yukonstruct that gives high school students an opportunity to learn and practise theatre, visual and media arts while also focusing on Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, the 1973 document that led the way for First Nations self-governance in the Yukon.

Together Today Creative Fridays follows the online Tomorrow Today Creation Station program Nakai held in March, Lyndsay Amato, a co-director with the program, said in an Oct. 5 interview.

Amato is directing the program with Melaina Sheldon while Jacob Zimmer, Norah Paton and Martin Nishikawa of Nakai are also involved in its delivery.

The creative station program saw 10 youth between the ages of 16 and 19 study Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow through a creative lens with artistic mentors working with the youth who completed a number of projects around it.

It provided a way to help youth become more familiar with the historical document in the lead up to its 50th anniversary in 2023.

As noted on Nakai’s website: “The 50th anniversary of this important document is approaching in 2023 — an important moment to recognize and be re-inspired by the text, which helped laid the foundation for Yukon’s final Umbrella Agreement and self-governing First Nations.”

“It means a lot to this community,” Amato said.

The drop-in program allows high school aged youth a place to come each Friday evening where they can explore their creativity, learn from artists and elders in the community and work on their own pieces inside Yukonstruct’s Makespace.

Participants could have opportunities for their creations — whether that be a short performance, visual or audio art created during the drop-in sections — to be shared during Nakai’s annual Pivot Festival in January 2022 or other events that come up over the year.

“It’s a really incredible program: really fun and unique,” Amato said, emphasizing her own excitement to be a part of it.

Over the course of each Friday evening, a more structured portion of the program from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will incorporate teachings from elders on Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, as well as feature artist presentations and discussions, theatre games, storytelling and more.

The space, however, will be open to youth beginning at 4:30 p.m. with snacks provided and will remain open until 9 p.m. giving participants time to work on their own creative endeavours with the tools and technology available in the Makespace portion of Yukonstruct.

“It’s a lot of creating,” Amato said.

Amato said Nakai wants to help youth realize the artist in themselves “whatever that may be” and that’s one of the goals of this program. For some that may be in performing on stage, for others it could be in writing, painting or design.

Whatever their interest, Nakai wants to help students’ explore their interests, strengthen their skills through the program while also ensuring the history of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, she said.

As for how many students Nakai is expecting to see take part, Amato said given the drop-in nature of the program it’s hard to say, but officials are hopeful the drop-in format will allow many to come by and take part over the course of 11 weeks.

Whether that means 10 kids on a given evening or five, it will be great, she said.

The program runs each Friday until Dec. 17 at Yukonstruct on Second Avenue.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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