THE SCOOP | CAMH And TSO Partner To Launch Program For First Nations, Inuit, Métis Patients

L-R (clockwise): Yo-Yo Ma plays at CAMH (Photo: Jag Gundu); Yo-Yo Ma and peformers at CAMH (Photo: Allan Cabral); Yo-Yo Ma and Jeremy Dutcher at CAMH (Photo: Jag Gundu)

International music superstar Yo-Yo Ma and Jeremy Dutcher came together to help the Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrate a new partnership with CAMH. The TSO and Centre for Addition and Mental Health have inaugurated a multi-year partnership that includes a program called Art of Healing which will support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients at CAMH through arts and culture.

“CAMH is honoured to partner with the TSO to enrich the experience of First Nations, Inuit and Métis patients at CAMH,” said Sarah Downey, President and Chief Executive Officer, CAMH in a media release. “Through music we can create meaningful connections between people and their stories, to help pave the path to recovery. This partnership advances CAMH’s commitment to providing culturally appropriate programs to Indigenous patients, and we are thrilled to be sharing this journey with the TSO.”

For the TSO, it’s an initiative that extends the organization’s reach into community engagement. It comes as the orchestra is celebrating its 100th birthday.

“For 100 years, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has sought opportunities to join forces with other organizations in the city to support the health and well-being of our diverse communities through music,” said Mark Williams, Chief Executive Officer, TSO.

“This exciting new collaboration with Canada’s largest mental-health teaching hospital reaffirms that commitment, and we are thankful to CAMH for uniting with us. It is our privilege to be able to serve First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients by going beyond the concert hall to bring the healing power of music to them. This is the kind of thoughtful engagement that sustains us as we continue to find new ways to share music with the city we are proud to call home.”

The TSO plays at CAMH (Photo: Allan Cabral)
The TSO plays at CAMH (Photo: Allan Cabral)

The program

Shkaaba Makwa at CAMH is a groundbreaking hospital-based centre in Canada, the first to aim for treatments and wellness initiatives that are culturally based. Shkaabe Makwa and Gifts of Light, a 100% donation-funded program, will oversee the creation of a healing space that is culturally rooted, and committed to bringing traditional knowledge and modern medicine together.

“I’m so pleased that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients will have access to such a special and unique program that is also culturally relevant and celebrates Indigenous-specific world views,” said Renee Linklater, Senior Director, Shkaabe Makwa, CAMH. “We’re looking forward to welcoming the expert music and storytelling experience to our patients at CAMH through this partnership with the TSO.”

Storytelling and musical composition will be among the program’s offerings. Métis composer Ian Cusson, along with members of the TSO, will work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis CAMH patients. An original piece of music will be co-created, and premiered by the TSO and Gustavo Gimeno in the 2023/24 season.

Yo-Yo Ma, who was in Toronto for the TSO’s gala event, and Polaris Music Prize winner from Tobique First Nation Jeremy Dutcher, got together for a series of events in Toronto. They were joined by performers Rebecca Cuddy and Sarah Prosper.

“I’ve remarked before that Toronto is almost like a second home,” said Yo-Yo Ma. “It is a city of memories and connections around every corner, from Roy Thomson Hall to Massey Hall to the wonderful Music Garden. What a joy to be back here and to celebrate this partnership. And it is an honour — and fitting — to be with my friend Jeremy Dutcher. His ability to sing songs of nature and human nature, to share meaning and understanding that stretches far across the generations, is a model for us all.”

The Art of Healing pilot program will be launched in the winter of 2023.

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