Darryle Caribou captures the spirit of the evening on canvas during the annual Inner City Youth Alive banquet.

Cree painter's brush puts life in perspective

Article courtesy of ChristianWeek (www.christianweek.org)
Written by Josiah Neufeld, ChristianWeek Staff

WINNIPEG, MB – Darryle Caribou isn’t fazed by an audience peering over his shoulder while he paints. In fact, the 24-year-old Cree artist from Pukatawogan rather enjoys the attention he gets while painting in public.

At an October 26 banquet celebrating the 21st anniversary of Inner City Youth Alive, a North End drop-in centre, Caribou set up his canvas and, while silverware clinked and speakers told stories, a painting emerged reflecting the spirit of the evening.

“It connects with what we’re trying to do today – to encourage youth and inspire them,” says Caribou, who says exploring his creative impulse to paint helped him put life in perspective.

“I’ve been on the streets, been through schools, been to foster homes – this is what keeps me balanced,” says Caribou. He didn’t realize artwork could also help him eat, until he asked himself during a job-search process what he really liked doing.

“Well, I like art; finally it came out,” he says.

Caribou found his way into a 48-week commercial art program at the Graffiti Gallery in Winnipeg. Now he says his art earns him the money he needs to live. He sells his work at aboriginal craft shows and painted a mural on the Métis Child and Family Services building at 1261 Main Street this summer. Caribou says his creativity is a gift.

“It doesn’t come from me – it comes from God,” he says. “I ask for direction in my work.”

Caribou says his abilities allow him to be a role model and mentor for other aspiring artists.

“As youth, anything can happen,” he says. “I want to encourage youth that are struggling–they don’t have to hold it in. They can let go of that stubbornness and let the real character out.

“Success to me, involves sharing each other’s experiences through artwork. Through these shared expressions, I hope to become a role model for others. In learning the good that can happen because of art, one could see there’s a way to get off the streets and that there is life through art and poetry.”

At 24, Caribou is older than 60 per cent of aboriginal people in Canada, a population growing twice as fast as the rest of society, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

Inner City Youth Alive is always looking for volunteers to assist with the program by serving as role models. For more information, click to contact ICYA.

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