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Rap camp revives and reclaims dying culture
Published Sunday, February 1, 2015 5:19PM MST Last Updated Sunday, February 1, 2015 5:33PM MST
A University of Calgary professor has found an innovative way to help aboriginal students learn their native language and is offering a workshop that appeals to the younger generation.
Darin Flynn is a professor of linguistics at the U of C and is using rap music to get aboriginal youth involved in their culture.
The students write and perform rap lyrics and then translate their compositions into their native dialect.
“Aboriginal youth need and want to connect to their language and a lot of them don't speak their language and so the opportunity to write a song in Blackfoot in a genre that appeals to them, mainly rap, is just the ticket,” said Flynn.
According to linguistic experts Blackfoot and many other native languages are dying so it’s important to find a way to pass those dialects on to future generations.
“Our language is going away it needs to come back and stay, how it was in the past,” said student Shanell White Quills
“I like it because I want to learn it and when I grow up I want to be a rapper,” said Devonta Traverse.
The students receive guidance from Karim Rushdy, who runs rap camps for youth all over Canada.
“If it works it would be fantastic. I think we need to be doing everything we can to preserve culture and save these languages,” said Rushdy, founder of The Rap Camp.
Rushdy says music is a positive motivator and that the camps help youth flourish and express themselves in a way they didn't think was possible.
“There's a moment where a young person realizes I can do that right? And for me that's the driving force,” he said.
The program runs for the next three years and this year’s crop of students hope to put out a music video by the fall.
The program was made possible through a grant from the Calgary Foundation
For more information on The Rap Camp, click HERE.
(With files from Amanda Singroy)