Healing Through Music Workshops in the James Bay Area
In February 2021, ArtsCan Circle and 67 Records partnered up to bring music workshops and mentorships to the James Bay Area in northern Ontario. The style of workshop is called Healing Through Music.
Healing Through Music is the brainchild of recording engineer Jeremiah Otis. This program takes a trauma-informed approach to the art of music-making and video production—teaching youth what they are capable of through the free-flowing expression of music and video, from lyrical development to the final take of video production. Artists train youth to learn the power of expression and give them tools to deal with their trauma in a positive way.
What is so unique about this partnership is that this youth program is entirely led by Jeremiah Otis and Christopher Cottle, residents of Fort Albany. Youth have an opportunity to learn teamwork, filming, recording, songwriting, singing, visual arts and how to create a music video and be a mentor, too. The workshop is also a safe space for youth to hang out, enjoy a meal, and gain the confidence and experience.
As of date, Healing Through Music has completed four workshop series with the end results the creation of music videos called Fire Makers and Weeds.
Jeremiah Otis started working with Feathers of Hope a branch of the Ontario Child Advocate office in 2014 after attending the Youth Justice Forum. Jeremiah was a representative for the Mushkegowuk Region speaking on behalf of youth regarding the issues they face eventually speaking at the Gladue Conference directly confronting policymakers on the validity of the Gladue System. Jeremiah started working as a facilitator for several other forums working on music and storytelling development workshops. In 2017 Jeremiah developed a peer-to-peer support network to aid the community dealing with the previous year’s Suicide crisis in Fort Albany. In 2016 Jeremiah formally started doing music under the name J.Otis creating the first rap group mad squad, an indigenous youth rap group based out of Fort Albany.
After moving to Timmins, Jeremiah formally developed the program “Healing through music” to aid children with their crisis through the power of music to give them a sense of community again. During this time, Jeremiah started working in a larger capacity doing vocal engineering for himself and numerous artists. In 2019 Jeremiah started working with Jordan Cheechoo to help him secure a production contract with Universal Music Group all while producing 4 songs. Jeremiah did a touring circuit in Toronto performing at several clubs and venues as an independent artist.
After moving back to Fort Albany Jeremiah became a frontline community worker on the flood watch transitioning to the pandemic support team. In 2020 Jeremiah enrolled in Algonquin college’s music engineering and business program with ambitions of taking his recording company 67 records worldwide.
Christopher Cottle, from Toronto Ontario is a Youth advocate that has spent most of his life developing strategies to help amplify youth voices through his love of media and communication. Being a former youth the care his work started working with the Child-welfare sector to help express the concerns of youth from south-western Ontario. After getting the chance to work directly with the former Ontario Child Advocates office he worked alongside youth from across the province to develop regulatory policies for Bill 89 the updated child and family services act. After starting work with the OCA in a formal capacity as a Communication expert Christopher developed events and interviews to highlight the struggles and ambitions of children in the offices Mandated areas. After meeting Jeremiah Otis at the OCA’s final Feathers of Hope forum Christopher started working to lay the groundwork for his future projects and collaboration. Christopher became the producer of the CYC podcast network in 2019 and worked alongside Professor Wolfgang Vachon of Humber College social welfare program to produce interviews revolving around a professional in the social services sector all while producing short films and music videos with the Bawaadan collective. After producing the well-received Midland Motel 77 short film with the collective he has continued to work with various organizations as a content producer and advertising consultant for organizations like TechZenik, OSS Motorsports and TakingITGlobal specifically on their #RisingYouth grant program.
Now Christopher has his sights set on developing a global presence for both 67 Records and Project Outsiders.