The executive director of a charity based in Area I that helps both youth and people with barriers to employment through dance has received two awards for her work.
Carmen Moreira, executive director of SQx Dance Company, recently received both a BC Social Innovation Youth Award and was an award winner for Shaw’s Canada 150 Outstanding Canadians.
Moreira started SQx Dance in 2012.
“The mission of the organization is to use dance to promote kinship, collaboration [and] teamwork,” she says.
SQx’s Interactive Dance Awareness program then began in 2013 and has since been delivered across Western and Northern Canada.
This year, SQx received special support from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to incorporate a work experience project into the program.
“Because the target population of that one are inner cities, minority ethnic and faith groups, minority languages, rural and remote communities and Indigenous communities on and off reserves. And so we’re working with a lot of youth at risk and now incorporating people with barriers to employment to act as role models in this symbiotic, healing and reconciliation environment,” explains Moreira.
SQx’s Interactive Dance Awareness program hired professional dancers from across Canada who auditioned for their positions and then relocated to the Kootenays. Those employees then worked with the six Kootenay participants of the work experience project to deliver the Interactive Dance Awareness across B.C. to about 60,000 youth at risk.
“Those youth at risk are students that are enrolled at schools across the province, and we go Haida Gwaii, Ahousaht, Vancouver, Lower Mainland, Kootenays — everywhere. We go all across the province,” says Moreira.
The youth participants of the interactive dance program receive “a rigorous, physical program that promotes imagination, engagement in arts and culture, anti-bullying, anti-racism, cooperation, teamwork, leadership, fair play and cognitive development through tasks and exercises, and physical literacy.”
Participants in the work experience part of the program get on-the-job skills training and the opportunity to interact with cultures across B.C.