Wasse Abin High’s Writings on the Walls

Aanii, I’m back! I hope you all enjoyed my article last week! Well, that’s if you’ve read/seen it but if you haven’t then that means you missed my introduction to me. So here’s a short one: my name is Aurora, I’m 15 and attend Wikwemikong High School. I’m going to be writing weekly for this column called ‘Writings on the Wall.’ Last week I said I would be later writing about OLI which is the Outside Looking in Program, and I decided I will write about this week since I recently brought it up.

The Outside Looking In program is a school course only for indigenous communities all over Canada. The course is designed for Grades 7 and up. OLI is a dance course and goes toward an art credit but it doesn’t just focus on dance. This course is very strict and pushes the students to their limits. The students’ grades, attendance and behaviour have to be good. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really worth it. With this course the students have to work really hard to stay in the program or else they will be cut. If the students won’t commit to this program (for example if their grades are low or attendance is poor) then the OLI head office will cut them from the program. Another way students could get cut is if they are not keeping up with the choreography. They get assessments every couple weeks, and if the students are in the green then they are doing well in the program, if the students are in yellow then they need to get caught up because they are close to being cut, if the students are in red then they are cut from the program. If the students happen to get cut, they are placed in an ILC which is an Independent Learning Course, which is where the students pick a class and do the work independently.

OLI’s mission statement is ‘Through the Transformative art of dance, indigenous youth are inspired to pursue education, engage in self-expression and celebrate empowerment.’ OLI focusses on these certain life skills: time management, accountability, responsibility, dedication and perseverance. Students who successfully stay in the program throughout the semester are rewarded by gaining self-confidence. The students get a chance to spend two weeks at a Tim Horton’s camp where they will also rehearse every day for two weeks, but not only will they rehearse they will also have other fun camp activities to do. The other indigenous communities will be at the Tim Horton’s camp, too. Finally, a couple days before the big performance, all of the students will get a trip to Canada’s Wonderland. A couple of days after the Canada Wonderland trip, the students perform on the Sony Centre stage in Toronto to a sold out audience. A student who has been in the program for two years now says, “Words can’t explain how good you will feel being up on that stage after months of hard work. It’s unbelievable.”

There are many great things about this program. They have the Future Leaders, the OLI Challenge and not to mention it keeps the students at school and keeping up with their schoolwork. The Future Leaders is for the students who have been in the program for two years, the students have to have performed once on stage with OLI, they have to be at least in Grade 10 but there are also plenty of other qualities of becoming a Future Leader but I decided just to state those two. There are different purposes of the Future Leaders program one of them is (as stated on the OLI website); ‘To engage with indigenous leaders to form a better understanding of skills required to become future leaders in their communities and beyond.” The Future Leaders will also get another dance to learn. The OLI challenge is fairly simple, the students can’t have any unexcused absences or lates and if they succeed then the students get a separate dance to learn for the show.

If you’d like to read more about the OLI program, the website is www.olishow.com.

That’s all I have to say for this week, I hope you enjoyed my article! Miigwech and thanks for reading!