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CSC Yellowknife, NT Design Lab, July 2022
The mindyourmind team travelled to Yellowknife, NT to work in partnership with Tree of Peace Friendship Centre and CBYF Yellowknife. Together, we engaged a group of passionate youth leaders from the Yellowknife area. Over the two-day Design Lab, we talked about mental health and the issues the youth faced within their community, as well as how to use art to explore these issues and what mental health means to them.
This Design Lab focused on how we could use art as a form of self expression to explore what mental health means to us, our immediate circle, and our community. We recognize that having discussions about mental health can sometimes feel overwhelming. Therefore, we explored alternative and creative ways to have these conversations. Together we practiced art therapy techniques and added new tools to our individual self care tool kits. During the two days, we created two collaborative art pieces that were showcased within youth spaces in Yellowknife. The pieces are meant to be a conversation starter and a way to highlight the conversations we had.
The mindyourmind team and a group of eight amazing youth: Ava, Crystal, Desiree, Janat, Narlie, Shania, Trishawna and Yazmin
The collaborative art pieces the group made were turned into three different art stickers, as well as a puzzle. See the gallery photos! If you are interested in receiving one of these puzzles or some stickers, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our second collaborative art piece, we explored what mental health looked like within their community and how they would like to envision it. Each youth created a unique piece that highlighted their thoughts, feelings, and hopes for the future. They also shared the inspiration behind their painting in written form. Here is what they wrote:
“Stretch” - It’s kind of an understatement to say reaching out for help is hard. Wanting to get help and knowing that there does exist people and resources to lessen your struggle will always be on one end of your internal tug of war rope. The other is doubt. Doubt that you want to change, fear of vulnerability, sometimes you gotta stretch beyond what is comfortable to find the help that does exist. Sometimes you may feel as if you’re searching in an empty void especially when living in a small community with limited resources. However, the journey to getting better starts with finding people who can support you, and care for you. Those people always exist somewhere.
“Midnight Sun” - No matter how awful I feel, one huge source of peace and beauty to me is Yellowknife’s midnight sun. My greatest memories with the people I love most seem to happen under a bright pink sky in the dead of night. It is there that my mind feels most hopeful for a brighter future.
“DIFFERENT SHADES ARE BEAUTIFUL” - Often, when people speak about mental health, they speak about the most common mental illness and partly neglect the ones that aren’t so common. I’ve often heard of depression and anxiety, but nothing much about PTSD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, to name a few. My painting shows different shades of green rather than just two. The different shades all represent different mental illnesses that will be spoken about one day in the community, rather than just a select few.
I painted a green base because green is my favourite colour, and then I didn’t know what to put on top so I did dots and kinda just went with the flow.
“In Orbit”. Mental health to me is a very complex, multifaceted concept. There is no right or wrong, there is no one direction, one perspective, one normal. Mental health looks different to everyone, in the end it is about what feels right. It is all subjective. This piece shows my version of the universe, which represents a community. These planets are people, and each are different patterns and colours to show how people experience their emotions in different ways, and how different mental health looks on each “planet”. In the centre is the sun. It has the largest mass, it pulls all the planets in orbit. In a community, people are brought together, no matter how individualistic beliefs or experiences may be, people still are part of a shared community, however that may look. They are brought together into orbit. This piece can also be viewed from any direction. There is no “right” way to hold it, much like mental health and its subjectivity.
The “helping hand” represents the means with which one can maintain/support healthy mental health. The helping hand can be anything. The roots connected to the helping hand symbolize how we are all rooted in the connection to others, resources, and support. Our mental health is rooted in our connection to the “helping hand”
I pictured the mental wellness in my community being similar to a tree. The tree is grounded in its roots. The roots symbolize what grounds individual people; their thoughts, feelings, behaviours, coping strategies. The blooming green leaves on the roots are individuals. The tree is the result of strong, grounded individuals in the community it shows healthy growth. The collective effort of the community to stay grounded. To maintain a healthy, safe space for everyone to thrive. It takes a whole community of people to begin the steps of healing + reconciliations.
“HAPPY people, Broken Hearts” - The inspo behind my painting is that besides looking happy on the outside you can still be broken within, but even while being broken, you can still find ways to function or seek to look for normal things within human nature. You could have friendships and relationships that seem normal, but normal does not exist and sometimes you still end up being broken and that’s okay.