The inspiring message penned by a group of B.C. First Nations youth singers will be getting another boost into the spotlight when they step onto the stage to perform during International Women’s Day celebrations in New Westminster.
Working with the N’We Jinan group, a music initiative founded by David Hodges and Joshua Iserhoff in 2014 to work with Indigenous youth and create music, these girls from First Nations communities in the Shuswap, near Salmon Arm, wrote their song Worthy in March 2018. The song is centred on issues of bullying, depression and a loss of self-worth, with the core message seeking to inspire listeners to stay strong in the face of adversity, be honest about their problems and seek the help of others.
“I want people to listen to it and know they are not alone, they can get through and there is a brighter side,” Lana Thomas-Johnny said.
“You don’t have to hide in the shadows, you can bring things out in the open and talk about it with people, and trust people,” added Sasha Johnny.
Worthy was a hit both online and in the community, reaching over 600,000 views and prompting the girls to be asked to perform at the N’We Jinan album release party in Vancouver as well as Salmon Arm’s Roots and Blues music festival and Fall Fair in 2018. Close to a year later, the girls are still incredibly proud of their song and the reception it has gotten.
“Just knowing our song is out there helping other people, it’s a good feeling,” said Selina Davis.
“I feel proud because people know our message and we are showing people they should care about helping people,” added Lola Thomas-Purdaby.
The upcoming performance on International Women’s Day in New Westminster shows their song is steadily reaching a larger audience.
“I am glad the message is out there and helping other people. I am glad our video is moving to other towns helping other people get through it like we did,” said Sasha Johnny.
“I am just really glad we can see our song has helped some people, and they’re not just people we know and showed our video to, they’re from all over,” added Hannah Willis.
“I have read in the comments so many people saying we helped their daughter or niece. There is even a comment on there from an adult going through stuff and the song helped them. I was proud of that, it’s helping everyone,” said Cece Thomas-Jules.
Their introduction to making music through N’We Jinan and their song Worthy has also inspired some of the girls to continue making music of their own, writing song lyrics and taking an interest in creating beats.
Reflecting on their own experiences and seeing how others connected to the message in their song has served as inspiration to work harder at helping others.
“I see myself doing it more now. I see people I barely know like maybe posting in their Snapchat story that they are having a hard time, and they don’t really want to talk to anyone, but I try and let them see they can trust me and I can help if they need it,” Lola Thomas-Purdaby said. “I want them to be more than just okay.”
They take to to the stage in New Westminster during International Women’s Day celebrations on March 8.