The Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society (SCES) hosted a virtual workshop on Wednesday for artists working in remote or northern communities that have experienced trauma.

Carol Rose GoldenEagle was one of the people behind the workshop. She has spent a lot of time storytelling and drumming in northern communities.

On a visit about a year ago, GoldenEagle said she met a young boy, around the age of eleven or twelve.

“And while we were walking, I don’t know why or where it came from, he just kind of blurted out, and I have to use the word ‘blurted out,’ that he was thinking of killing himself,” said GoldenEagle.

While speaking to other artists at Wednesday’s workshop, GoldenEagle said she didn’t know how to respond to the boy, and the experience has remained with her ever since.

GoldenEagle spoke to other artists, and realized she wasn’t the only one dealing with this.

“Every artist who works in northern and remote communities encounters something like this. Some type of trauma-induced admission by a beautiful, young person,” she said. “We need to know how to be compassionate. We need to know how to be proactive. We need to know what is the right way to respond to something like this.”

John Kennedy, SCES’s executive director, said the organization has been sending artists to rural and remote areas to perform for at least 30 years.

This is the first time they’ve run a workshop addressing some of those encounters.

“The ability to discuss (trauma) and confront it in constructive ways,” said Kennedy. “And also to help people channel that trauma into their art, and into a healthy way to express themselves.”

Between 15 and 20 artists took part in Wednesday’s workshop. SCES plans to hold several more in the future, including one in the spring of 2021.