Describe how connecting Indigenous Youth to their heritage through art may aid in offsetting addiction.

Hello, my name is Christine Mackenzie, and I am from Kwakiutl Nation. I am a First Nation Artist and Facilitator. I was born in Kelowna BC, Unceded territory of the Syilx/Okanagan people. My mother was born in Bella Coola BC. We are from the Eagle clan. My mother was a part of the Sixties Scoop, and because of that, I had a hard time trying to find our culture and my identity. 

I enjoy working with traditional/contemporary design and with multiple mediums. I have been doing art all my life, but as a professional Artist and Facilitator since 2009. I was mentored by Anastasia Hendry, Haida Nation, who was an Artist and Facilitator for 30+ years, and has since retired. I now help others in their journey to self identity, and I educate others about Indigenous culture, artwork and protocols. 

I speak to my teachings and life experiences, to support others in their understanding of empathy when learning about Indigenous culture. I believe that there is a strong connection between self identity and culture. So, when I teach and share, I incorporate these elements to help uplift people in their journey in finding their identity within. 

The arts have a way of helping us grow emotionally, and I have noticed this in the younger generation, when they find creative ways to express themselves. The amount of confidence that they have is a noticeable difference. Some of the non for profit organizations I’ve worked with support high risk individuals, and I often set up a workshop so we can create, or have a stimulating environment filled with cultural items. I find this to be a very successful way to approach hard topics about substance use, mental health, stereotypes and stigmas. I create a safe environment so that a support system, or a game plan, on how to build a successful journey can be shared. In Indigenous culture, we are a part of the land, by bringing back traditional teaching and a decolonized approach to helping those struggling. This can offset the dependent relationships those have with substances. It is important to change the mindset from sympathy, to empathy, using art and culture as a foundation. 

To see more of my art, my Instagram is: @sneakynativeart