ARTSCAN CIRCLE’S STORY
Over 20 years ago, a chance encounter with youth in Northern Labrador altered the course of harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens’ professional path and led to an epiphany of why he plays music in the first place. Back at home in Sarnia, Mike drove door to door, picking up donated instruments to bring to the remote northern communities he visited. Mike had the vision to implement music workshops across the North.
In 2002, he founded ArtsCan Circle—a registered charity dedicated to confronting the multiple realities and inequalities facing First Nations, Innu, Inuit and Métis youth in remote, Northern communities. As well as to convey one clear message to the youth: You are valued, and your voices are important.
Since then, ArtsCan Circle has sent artists to over 16 communities to facilitate creative art workshops for the youth. In addition, they have shipped over 40,000 harmonicas and countless violins, keyboards, fiddles, ukuleles and guitars, and impacted over 10,000 Indigenous youth.
The workshops consist of virtual arts, filming, recording, creative writing, drama, poetry, harmonica, keyboard, guitar, beatboxing, beading, and inspirational talks and performances. Many artists and partners are on board from Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leela Gilday and Susan Algurkark to the band offices, community members and Indigenous organizations. Partner communities have expressed that now more than ever is the time to engage with the youth.
ArtsCan Circle needs your support to open pathways of opportunities for First Nations, Innu, Inuit, and Métis youth to collaborate with artists, access instruments and artistic tools, and share their stories through creative expression. Please click on “Ways to Give” to learn how to donate funds, instruments and artistic tools, host a fundraiser or create a partnership. We are grateful to be on this journey of reconciliation together.
Mike Stevens – A Walk in My Dream
A chance encounter with at-risk youth in Northern Labrador alters the course of harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens’ professional path and leads to an epiphany of why he plays music in the first place.
We invite you to read the transcription told by Mike Stevens at the initial ArtsCan Circle meeting on January 24, 2002.
Listen to Jaxon from Home Routes in conversation with one of Canada’s most established, prolific, respected musicians – Mike Stevens.
Watch Mike Stevens on TVO Today: Connecting north and south. Stevens tells the story behind his inspiration for ArtsCan Circle (2021)
Read FYI Music News article ArtsCan Founder Earns Slaight Humanitarian Honour At CCMAs
Roots Music Canada – Harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens announces a new album
Have you seen Mike Stevens’ TEDx Talk at Gabriola Island? Great to see Mike be a part of this franchise and highlight some of the challenges faced in our Northern Communities.