‘Love is the path, Run Free’: Children in Cat Lake First Nation release music video about love, family
‘Love is the path, Run Free’: Children in Cat Lake First Nation release music video about love, family

“Love is the path, that’s all you need, run free..”

That’s the refrain running through a new music video, written and produced by a group of children in Cat Lake First Nation, about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

The young people, ages 8 to 14, worked with Indigenous artists from the non-profit arts and education organization N’we Jinan, who visited the community just days before the pandemic lockdown,  to create a song about love, togetherness, family values and connection to nature,

The children wrote about their own experiences such as “snaring a rabbit and feeling so free, “Mom’s making stew because it’s good for me” and “camping with family, my Shoomis and Kokum standing with me.”

Having the opportunity to express what they were thinking and feeling was very positive for the kids, said Danyelle Wesley, the community’s child and family prevention liaison.

“They were super curious and shy, obviously at first, but when they saw the video it was really cool because they were all happy to see what they had made.”

These are the children from Cat Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario who helped write and produce the song and music video ‘Run Free’. They worked with Indigenous artists from N’we Jinan through Save The Children Canada’s “hurt and healing” program, supported by GSK. (Run Free/YouTube)

Long before the challenges posed by COVID-19, people in the community had been dealing with a public health and housing emergency, including mould, leaking roofs and other structural problems.

A state of emergency was declared in January 2019, when leadership officials issued a statement noting the “profoundly poor conditions of housing,” in the remote community have led to “needless illnesses and related deaths,”

Save the Children Canada said that as a result of these conditions “many children are experiencing a serious impact on their physical and mental health,” which is why it wanted to offer its arts-based Hurt and Healing Program to the community.

The program, which is a partnership with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), gives Indigenous youth a platform to express themselves, which in turn builds resilience and well-being and can help them overcome trauma.

The power of their resiliency is evident in the lyrics “run free”, said Wesley.

Children ask musicians ‘come back please’

“I love the chorus,”said Wesley. “There are a lot of scenarios that you could run free from, like for instance a bad relationship, and maybe you’re not doing it, but you need to get free from that.”

The children all really enjoyed doing the video and are eager to make another, she said, adding that as the artists were leaving, the kids kept asking “come back please. They didn’t want to let them go home.”