Looking “Beneath the Surface” of suicide

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Local youth tackle the issue of suicide by transforming stories of grief and struggle

“Beneath The Surface” was written in memory of the late Chasity Smith.(adopted Daughter of VATJSS Executive Director, Christine Smith-Parnell)

Chasity Smith took her life at age 14, on December 5th, 2009. Plagued by inner demons and the pain she carried from a childhood of sexual abuse and FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome), she took life into her own hands and made a choice that would change the lives of those who loved her dearly forever. Since December 5th of last year, it has been a healing journey for the entire VATJSS staff, but more than anything, the impact it has had on the community as a whole has moved us all and inspired us in ways we never imagined.

In March 2010, we threw out a casting call for an untitled Suicide Prevention Play now titled “Beneath The Surface” Those who were meant to be in this project stepped up and answered the call embracing each step of the creative process whole heartedly.

The premise of the play is to educate and to inform youth, teachers, and community alike on the realities underlying suicide, the signs in which we can be warned if someone is in danger and the ultimate goal is to bring heart into the matter. This story is partially based on the real life events of the late Chasity Smith but her name has been changed out of respect for her grieving family. There are many facets that come into play in making the dramatic decision of taking ones life, and we have felt it an important matter to clarify on each level going as far back as to our roots and Aboriginal History.

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Our goal, in the end, is to bring light and hope to the upcoming generation with a taste of reality. Life is a series of choices and a journey in which our youth need to be mentored and guided and given the tools in order to find success. The cast of “Beneath the Surface” is well educated and deeply involved in this play on every level, and is prepared to give their all in whatever venue they perform in.

Aboriginal children and youth in our country are facing difficulties both in rural and urban settings. They are at high risk for alcoholism and addictions, teen pregnancy, gang violence, suicide, and poverty.

According to government statistics, the rate of suicide among Aboriginal people in Canada for all age groups is 2 to 3 times higher than the rate among non-Aboriginal people. It is 5-6 times higher among Aboriginal youth than among their non-Aboriginal peers (RCAP).

Imagi’Nation have created a theatre play in which we will empower and educate First Nations children, youth through the avenue of the performing arts.

We have seen the urgency within our communities and we have a desire to creatively mentor and encourage healing and restoration to this generation. Imagi’Nation hopes to build bridges from past to present and inspire communities to return to health and well-being.

Jenifer Brousseau
imagiNation, Director

Our vision and mission is to have our theatre play, ‘‘Beneath the Surface’’ in full swing, performing by June 2010. We are seeking corporate sponsorship, community contributions to assist in making this happen. We would love to partner on a continued basis but are also open to a onetime taxable donation.

All cheques payable to:
Vancouver Transformative Justice Services Society memo:
(Theatre Play Donation)
#107- 1607 East Hastings St.
Vancouver BC V5L 1S7

For bookings please contact:

Jenifer Brousseau - Director/Producer
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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CAST N CREW

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ASHLEY CROWCHIEF
Born in Calgary and raised in Okotoks, Alberta; Ashley CrowChief is truly a child of the west. Raised with a deep sense of her aboriginal ancestry, art has always played a role in Ashley’s life.  Ashley has many plans for the future including her ongoing passion project “The Indian problem” formally titled “to Kill the Indian in the Child”, her documentary about children raised in Indian residential schools and how it has effected them and their culture.
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CHLOE CARLINE
Chloe Carline: Tsimshian Nation from Prince Rupert, B.C. Chloe is 22-year-old has been acting for seven years. She had started her dream back in 2003, Have been involved in projects such as EastVan Story in Vancouver BC, the play focused on gangs, violence, abuse. Currently in the production “Beneath the Surface” directed by Jenifer Brousseau, Chloe plays a bully named Rose, but beneath her exterior is an untold story. Chloe continues to follow her passion and create the art inside and is on route to a bright road ahead.

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CRAIG FRANK EDES
Craig Frank Edes is a young Gitxsan aboriginal from Houston, Birtish Columbia. The aspiring emcee and thespian is one year away from recieving his Acting for Stage & Screen diploma at Capilano U. Craig looks toward to working with his first all native cast and crew in imagi’Nation’s production of Beneath the Surface.
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CRYSTAL ASHAM
Crystal Asham is a Ojibway woman from Peguis Manitoba ~ single mother of 2 beautiful children Dakota and Raven. Although this is not her first time performing it is her first time performing in over 16 years. Crystal has a renewed her love for acting as well as performing and wishes to pursue her acting dreams and asperations.
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JENIFER BROUSSEAU
Jenifer Brousseau (Director/Producer) Ojibway/French has been an Actor/Singer/Performer since age 5. After travelling accross Canada for 6 yrs teaching Theatre and the Arts to Aboriginal children and
youth Jenifer began her own journey towards her career upon moving to Vancouver. Along with acting sings with the award winning group M’Girl. She is passionate about the Arts as a means for growth and healing.
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ALANA LAMALICE
Alana LaMalice is of South Slavey Dene-Gwichen & Cree-Chipewyan descent. Born and raised in the NWT on the Katlodeeche First Nation Reserve. She is elated to be not only acting but co-producing imagiNation’s very important and acclaimed production of Beneath the Surface for which she has received rave reviews. In short Alana has been a force in the industry for the last 5 years, and has a passion both in front and behind the camera.
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IAN LEO
A member of the Lilwat Nation, Ian is a graduate of Malaspina University, where he speacialized in the Culinary Arts. Ian’s passion for acting came at an early age and is a performer at heart. For the past six months, he has been exploring the world of drama, by taking part in several short films, and most recently is a cast member in ‘Beneath the Surface’ where he is honoured to be a part of an amazing cast, the chance to grow as an actor, and be a valued cast member.
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ASHLEY MCALLISTER
Cree/French/Scottish. Ashley McAllister a registered Horse lake Indian grew up in Edmonton Alberta, where she discovered her deep appreciation towards the arts. It was in Victoria Performing Arts High School where she had the opportunity to emerge herself into a Dance, and Art class, only to discover that Drama would have been more ideal in fulfilling her desire to be on screen. This play has enabled Ashley to move ten steps forward in her career, and a sense of pride towards her native ancestry is an absolute.
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JILLIAN PASQUAYAK
Jillian Pasquayak is a Plains Cree Native, and a member of the Saddle Lake first Nation Band. She spent 18 Years of her life in Alberta before deciding to attend the vancouver Film school in 2005, Where she graduated the school’s acting essentials as well as the full Year acting for film and television program. she than continued Study at Sydney, Australia’s NIDA school of acting while travelling abroad. an artist at heart, She’s passionatly and fully commited to the “beneath the Surface” play.
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