DAREarts Announces Youth Leader Honourees

Jack Linklater Jr. will be speaking at the DAREarts event
Jack Linklater Jr. will be speaking at the DAREarts event
Jack Linklater Jr. will be speaking at the DAREarts event
Jack Linklater Jr. will be speaking at the DAREarts event

TORONTO – ARTS – Marilyn Field, Founder & President of DAREarts, today announced the six youths who will be honoured at the annual Leadership Awards Gala, on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at The Carlu. The gala will be co-hosted by Piya Chattopadhyay, host of CBC Radio’s Out in the Open and Jeanne Beker CM, past DAREarts Cultural Award honouree, Canadian TV personality, fashion designer, author and newspaper columnist.

This annual gala celebrates the power of the arts to ignite change in the lives of Canadian at-risk children. Each of the six youths will be awarded a medallion and financial support. In addition to the youths, the gala honours an individual who has led the way in cultivating culture for Canadian youth with the Cultural Award. This year’s honouree is Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of The Stratford Festival.

The young 2017 Leadership Award honourees are:

Kiranpreet Kaur Bhangu, Etobicoke, ON

Kiranpreet attends York University in Kinesiology and Health Sciences. Growing up, she encountered negative comments about her identity that made her feel incapable of pursuing her goals. She struggled trying to understand who she is as a person and where she will be in her future. The pressures of school and life caused her to develop anxiety and depression. She received some mentoring and encouragement from DAREarts and adults in her school who gave her the confidence to join clubs and social events and plan her career path. She aspires to a career as a health professional and would like to continue to do work, like DAREarts, to provide a safe educational environment for youth and empower them with the motivation to create positive change.

Jaiden Downey, Toronto, ON

Jaiden attends Heights Alternative School. Growing up, he faced a number of challenges, including anxiety, depression, struggling with school and mental and physical abuse. DAREarts helped him deal with his anxiety and school struggles and he is back in school and determined to graduate. He uses his inner leader with his hockey team where he makes sure everyone keeps their head up whether the team wins or loses. He aspires to attend Humber College in the Police Foundations program and become a police officer.

Samira Henry, Etobicoke, ON

Samira attends West Humber C.I. in Grade 10. She dealt with bullying in elementary school. DAREarts empowered her to build up her confidence and become more open around people. Her leadership skills allowed her to become a volunteer at her church where she is responsible for attending to younger children. One of her goals is to be accepted and impact others’ lives. In the long term, she aspires to become a paramedic so that she will have the ability to save and change lives.

Jack Linklater Jr., Attawapiskat First Nation

In childhood, Jack dealt with living in poverty and overcrowding in his household, where he lived with 15 other people. One summer, his home caught on fire; he managed to save the lives of his two nieces. He feels that the media are showing Attawapiskat as a bad place. But working with DAREarts and developing the Reimagining Attawapiskat website is allowing him and other youths to inform the people of Canada about the good of the community: the way its people see it as their home. Thanks to DAREarts, he sees himself as a positive role model as he encourages others to help the community in positive ways. His goal is to attend university, study Indigenous Health and Wellness and work in addiction prevention within Attawapiskat FN and become Grand Chief for the Mushkegowuk Territory.

Ivan Patrik Montelibano, Etobicoke, ON

Ivan attends West Humber C.I. Growing up, he struggled to be heard as the “weird” kid in school. DAREarts gave him the chance to speak, be heard and feel accepted. He is in an MST program for math, science and technology. But DAREarts influenced him artistically. DAREarts made art an integral part of his life; he is an executive in his school’s film club and he now strives to be an impactful photographer and videographer, shooting short films based on real world problems and everyday people. He has been spending his winter break and free days volunteering on the DAREarts bus and mentoring younger children.

Eric Shewaybick, Webequie First Nation

Eric has lost many family members and friends through addiction and suicide. He describes himself as a troublemaker in school where he had failing grades and dropped out of courses because of things he did growing up. DAREarts enabled him to show his skills and express himself in new positive ways. It helped him build his confidence and he began opening up and expressing himself through creating. Now in his 20s, he has become a positive role model in his community, using his strengths and knowledge to show a path for those who need it most. He wants to work for his people and someday be the Chief of his community.

Elijah Brown, Scarborough, ON, is the 2017 recipient of Patina Prize, named in honour of the late Chairman of the DAREarts Board of Directors and former CEO of Lombard Canada Ltd. This prize assists youths in their post-secondary education. Elijah is in third year at Trent University studying mathematics. To address diversity there, he created an African dance group plus ran for Public Relations Officer. As a certified lifeguard Elijah, is using his passion to make a difference as a swim instructor for the City of Toronto. Elijah also plays a dynamic role blogging on social media for the Nia Center for the Arts / AFRO.

In addition to hearing from these youths, guests will enjoy a special Downie Wenjack Legacy Room to help address reconciliation, artwork by Indigenous young people, masks by Seneca College students, a sit-down dinner, live drama featuring Stratford Festival costumes and props and live and silent auctions.

DAREarts is grateful to its National Presenting Supporter, Northbridge Insurance and its Lead Supporters: Scotiabank, TD, Anne Livingston and Ontario150: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Gold supporters are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Guy Carpenter and Noront Resources.

We appreciate In-kind donations from The Carlu, Freeman Audio Visual, daCunha Voyages, Seneca College, Stock Transportation. Media supporters are Classical 96.3 FM, Globe and Mail and JazzFM91.1. For more information visit: www.darearts.com


Canada’s DAREarts is a national charity that empowers at-risk children with the confidence and courage to be leaders, using all the arts. When children apply the DAREarts values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence, they take charge of their lives and become leaders who ignite positive change in Canada’s marginalized communities, making Canada a better place for all of us. For 21 years, DAREarts has delivered out-of-school, arts and values programs, taught by teachers and arts professionals, to over 200,000 children from grades 4 to 12. In Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Nova Scotia, DAREarts delegates participate in real-world workshops in art, architecture, dance, drama, fashion, literature, music and leadership. They then go back to their schools and peer-teach their classmates. Also, DAREarts answers invitations from Indigenous communities to deliver arts programming that aligns with their culture, exposing the Indigenous children to creative learning opportunities and hope for the future. Since its inception in 1996, DAREarts has helped to break the vicious cycle of poverty, bullying, isolation and marginalization for Canadian children that too often cripples successful development.

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Cathy Elliott is a multi-disciplined Mi’kmaq artist and a proud member of the Indian Brook, Shubenacadie Band. Her screenplay for the documentary “Fill My Hollow Bones” was narrated by her hero, Graham Green. She wrote and directed The Talking Stick, the first all-aboriginal musical in the 47-year history of the Charlottetown Festival. The finale of The Talking Stick was featured at Will and Kate’s Royal Visit to PEI in 2011. A concert version of The Talking Stick was presented at the TRC Halifax. In 2012, She was the Aboriginal Liaison for New World Theatre Project’s The Tempest in Cupids, Newfoundland. She portrayed Ariel as a Beothuk Grandmother, and translated portions of the script into Beothuk and Mi’kmaq. “Fireweeds” her Yukon musical premiered at the Red Barn Theatre and had several productions. Moving Day, her one woman musical, premiered at Talk is Free Theatre and had productions in the inaugural Next Stage Festival, Halifax and Orillia. She is now the Director of Communications for DAREarts, a children's arts organization and the head of their Aboriginal Program.