Youth Engagement

In October 2020 we hired Charity Williams, OLY as our Youth Engagement Coordinator. Charity is using a series of workshops for youth to dive in and explore the five elements of Hip-Hop: Knowledge, MCing, DJing/Lyricism, Breakdancing/African dance, and Graffiti.

Woman crouching front left side of oversized completed graffiti work “Hip-Hop”; cans of spray paint in foreground
  • Using hip-hop pedagogy, the program delves into themes of identity, power, resistance and creativity to speak with and re-engage Black and Indigenous youth in this society.
  • These discussions/workshops create space for youth to understand self-development, create awareness of how systems influence and impact their lives, and give them the tools to be critical of the world in which they participate.
  • The youth develop skills to challenge the inequities around them and become transformative agents of change for their community.
  • Our program is rooted in partnerships with progressive and innovative members from the Black and Indigenous community.
  • It gives the participants an opportunity to meet mentors and have their lived experiences voiced and reflected within their everyday environments.

The first element “knowledge” refers to the historical knowledge of the movement, it’s all about our consciousness or lack thereof. This is the thread that weaves all the elements together, for this workshop we will educate the youth on the origins of hip-hop.

Ernie Panicciolli with one of his latest album covers

Knowledge: An online discussion with Ernie Paniccioli, legendary Hip Hop Photographer and member of the Hip Hop Hall of Fame and Shane Book, Canadian poet and filmmaker, Associate Professor of Writing at UVIC took place on February 20, 2021. Watch

Graffiti, the fifth element, allows artists to express themselves with art; widely used to visually highlight injustices in many urban communities. This element is often held with a lot of controversy, but we want to show the youth that graffiti is not vandalism, rather a beautiful and expressive art form that often speaks louder than words.

BCBHAS Graffiti Event Poster

This two-day Graffiti Workshop, on August 16 and 17, 2021 brought together BIPOC professional artists and youth from around Lekwungen Territory. The event was free; the goal for youth to learn basic graffiti techniques and the history of graffiti in Hip-Hop. Their work was then featured in the Esquimalt Community Art Hub (ECAH), 901 Esquimalt Rd.

We are so grateful to ECAH for uplifting the youth and their art in this way” Charity Williams

The Graffiti Workshop

The Art

2 graffiti art pieces hanging in gallery; each piece is approx. 24x36in./60x90cm
3 graffiti art pieces hanging in gallery; each piece is approx. 24x36in./60x90cm

2graffiti art pieces hanging in gallery; each piece is approx. 24x36in./60x90cm
3 graffiti art pieces hanging in gallery; each piece is approx. 24x36in./60x90cm
4 graffiti art pieces hanging in gallery; each piece is approx. 24x36in./60x90cm

ECAH images courtesy of BC Black History Awareness Society, Photographer Tracy Guinchard

Still to come …
The second and third elements are, “DJing/lyricism”. These elements manifested from the social conditions of the time. DJing was a new found manipulation of sounds that was used to create music. The innovative breaks and isolation of the percussive beat was what gave hip hop its initial rise. Lyricism was a form of poetic and “verbal acrobatics” derived from ancient African culture and oral tradition. Also known as “rapping” this element removed the veil that isolated the wider culture from the social conditions of many underserved urban communities. The rapid fire wordplay, spoke the truth of stories that weren’t being told and gave rise to a new urban narrative.

The fourth element is “Breakdancing/African dance”. This element can be described as “poetry in motion”. Its acrobatics style with influences of gymnastics, Capoeira, martial arts and other cultural influences speaks to the innovative wave ushered in by hip hop culture.