Michaëlle Jean Foundation Announces the New Recipients of its Young Arts Entrepreneur Start-Up Fund

OTTAWA, July 28, 2015—The Michaëlle Jean Foundation is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2015 edition of its Young Arts Entrepreneur program start-up fund.

In its second year, the program supports underserved youth wishing to help revitalize their communities by creating businesses in the creative industries. Besides seed funding, the winners can count on mentors from the arts and business sectors providing support over a two-year period. The program benefits from a partnership with Futurpreneur Canada and is made possible through the generous support of CIBC and BMO Financial Group.

More than 60 aspiring young business and community leaders from across Canada applied. A jury selected the following recipients:

  • Crystal Chan is a writer and editor based in Montreal. She wants to use new technology to give voice to isolated individuals and minorities through a new publishing company.
  • Morad Saad Guzman is a percussionist and multi-instrumentalist from Toronto. Through his company Golden Boys Music, he wants to offer young musicians a stimulating and safe space to learn, create and share.
  • Tori Hathaway wants to create a company that helps artists and youth advance social causes through song and music. The Barrie, Ontario native also wants to encourage them to pursue their dreams.
  • Sanaaj Mirrie wants to promote traditional dances among disadvantaged communities in the Durham Region of Ontario with her new project: the dance studio Afiwi Groove.
  • Andrea Niño is a dancer and choreographer based in Montreal. She is working to establish an arts studio space for the creation and teaching of arts through her new company.
  • Jesse Stong wants to create a company that introduces young Quebecers to theater by offering pedagogical tools to teachers.

“We are impressed by the quality of the projects as well as the creativity and determination of our young arts entrepreneurs. They are a true inspiration to young people in their communities and across the country. We are delighted to encourage them in their efforts and are confident that they will have an impact on Canada’s creative industries, which contribute billions of dollars to our economy,” said the Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean and Monsieur Jean-Daniel Lafond, Co-Founders and Co-Chairs of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.

About the Young Arts Entrepreneur Program

The Young Arts Entrepreneur program aims to ignite an entrepreneurial spirit among underserved young people and promote businesses that harness the arts for social change. In this spirit, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation provides $7,500 in seed money over a two-year period to young artists from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to establish or sustain an arts-based business. The program also gives them access to the expertise of experienced professionals to help them produce a business plan, develop a marketing strategy and enhance their artistic techniques. Over the next two years, the six young entrepreneurs will receive the tools and resources necessary to carry out and sustain their businesses.

Additional information about the recipients and their business projects can be found at https://www.fmjf.ca/en/programs/young-arts-entrepreneur-2/2015-young-arts-entrepreneurs/.

About the Michaëlle Jean Foundation

We support youth arts initiatives that transform young lives and revitalize underserved communities across Canada. Through our programs, underprivileged youth are using their creativity to build new solutions to pressing social issues, like poverty, social exclusion and mental health. In so doing, they are catalyzing innovative community renewal projects, driving Aboriginal cultural resurgence, and kick-starting cutting-edge business ventures, all over the country. For more info: www.fmjf.ca.

About Futurpreneur Canada

Futurpreneur Canada (formerly the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, or CYBF) has been fueling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada’s young enterprise for nearly two decades. We are the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Our internationally recognized mentoring program hand matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 2,800 volunteer mentors. Futurpreneur Canada is a founding member of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance, the Canadian member of Youth Business International, and the Canadian host of Global Entrepreneurship Week. www.futurpreneur.ca. Facebook: Futurpreneur Twitter: @Futurpreneur.

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For more information:

Peter Flegel
Director of Communications and Programs
Michaëlle Jean Foundation

The Michaëlle Jean Foundation Mourns the Passing of Canadian Arts Patron Yulanda Faris

OTTAWA, April 28, 2015—The Michaëlle Jean Foundation learnt with great sorrow of the passing of one of its founding board members, Vancouver-based philanthropist Yulanda Faris.

“Yulanda always displayed great compassion, generosity and dedication to our mission, which supports community arts initiatives that uplift at-risk youth across Canada,” said Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond, Co-Founders and Co-Chairs of the Foundation. “Her commitment to this vital sector and her radiant philanthropic spirit undeniably transformed lives and brought beauty and joy to Canadians of all ages.”

In 2009, Ms. Faris joined the Right Honourable Michaëlle, Jean-Daniel Lafond and 20 other members of the arts, business, youth engagement and academic communities, to establish the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which supports youth arts initiatives that transform young lives and revitalize underserved communities across Canada. With her support, the Foundation has grown into a national charity whose programs support arts projects for underprivileged youth in all regions of the country, including the Arctic.

An active patron of the arts, Ms. Faris was also a board member of the National Arts Centre, and she was the Chair of the Community Arts Council’s Community Arts Fund. The list of organizations supported by Ms. Faris and her husband, Mohammed Faris, include the Downtown Women’s Eastside Centre, the National Arts Centre, West Vancouver Foundation, the Vancouver Opera, the Scotiabank Dance Centre and the Vancouver Symphony.

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For more information:

Peter Flegel
Director of Programs and Communications
Michaëlle Jean Foundation

Justice in Nova Scotia to be Discussed at Upcoming Public Forum

(January 21, 2015, Halifax) Youth Art Connection is convening a Public Forum to address justice in Nova Scotia, through the prism of poetry, writing and visual art, in partnership with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Taking place at the Art Gallery on January 24, the event will feature an intergenerational panel of professional writers, poets and hip hop artists, performances and a public debate. Participants will discuss the ways in which the written and spoken word can be used to address such matters as restorative justice, inmate rehabilitation, the Indian Residential Schools and gender-based violence.

The public forum is presented as part of the 4th Wall: Justice, Art and Youth Exhibition, which is spearheaded by the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Sponsored by TD Bank Group and Fred and Elizabeth Fountain, the exhibition features the artwork of 71 Nova Scotian artists, aged 15 to 30, who share their unique perspectives on justice in Canada.

Their artwork was selected through a rigorous competition process, which saw youth from across the province submit proposals on the theme justice, art and youth. The exhibition is on view through January 25, 2015, at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Youth Art Connection is a collaborative community partner for this exhibition.

Where: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis Street, Halifax
When: Saturday January 24th, 1-3pm
Who: All are welcome to view the exhibition, and listen and engage with the panelists.

“Featuring the work of young artists/activists in Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, one of Nova Scotia’s main cultural institutions, has given a voice to young people and their communities in an unprecedented way. It is a great example of how Nova Scotians can work together across sectors to make positive community change,” says Ryan Veltmeyer, Executive Director of Youth Art Connection. “With an organization like the Michaëlle Jean Foundation leading on activities at a national level, we have a further opportunity to align our efforts with organizations across the country.”

Speakers include Rebecca Thomas (spoken word artist), Chris Benjamin (author), Shevy Price (hip hop artist), Jon Tattrie (author), Rebecca Moore (artist and public speaker), Savvy Simon (public speaker, activist, entrepreneur), Alyssa Flint (spoken word artist), Peter Flegel (Director of Programs and Communications at the Michaëlle Jean Foundation), and Dale Sheppard (Curator of Education and Public Programs at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia).

For more information about the exhibition visit

For more information about Youth Art Connection, please visit: http://www.youthartconnection.ca.

For more information about the Michaëlle Jean Foundation’s 4th wall program, please visit:

For more information about the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, please visit: www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca.

Contact person: Ryan Veltmeyer | 902-579-4673 | youthartconnection@gmail.com

GTA Black Youth Empowerment Arts Competition to Ignite Change

Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Environics Institute Launch a Citywide Arts Competition

(Toronto, November 25, 2014) The Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Environics Institute are launching the 4th Wall Scratch & Mix Project: Empowering Black Youth Through the Arts Challenge by inviting youth aged 14-30 to submit artwork on a theme of “Empowering the Black Community.”

The Scratch & Mix Project is an interdisciplinary grassroots arts and research project. It uses the arts to make the invisible experiences of Black youth visible by raising awareness about and developing solutions to the challenges and opportunities faced in the Greater Toronto Area. It will include:

  • A GTA-wide Arts Competition inviting youth (aged 14-30) to submit proposals for artwork on the theme “Empowering the Black Community.” Ten jury-selected finalists will develop their work with seasoned mentors, visit a groundbreaking Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at the AGO, receive $1,000 each and see their artwork displayed in a special AGO showcase. Proposals must be submitted by email to youthprogramsintern@ago.net by Jan. 22, 2015. More details can be found here.
  • A Paid Internship Opportunity at the AGO for one student familiar with the GTA’s Black community who will conduct research, develop materials and help with project planning for the initiative. The application deadline is Nov. 30, 2014. Details may be found here.
  • A Scratch & Mix Project Exhibition, which will feature the artwork of the 10 finalists. Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the exhibition will be on view at the AGO from March 21 to June 2015;
  • A Black History Month Youth Solidarity Forum, on Feb. 28, 2015, at the AGO. Over 200 community members, youth, artists, and representatives of a variety of sectors such as health, business, urban planning, justice and community engagement. They will identify lasting solutions to issues of concern, which can be implemented through a youth-driven community action project and can inform the Environics Institute’s ongoing research on the Black community.
  • School Visits during which artist mentors will offer workshops exploring the themes in Puerto Rican and Haitian American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work and enable students to visit the AGO’s Basquiat exhibition.

The Scratch & Mix Project is the latest edition of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation’s national program, 4th Wall: Make the Invisible Visible, which empowers marginalized youth to make their invisible experiences visible by showcasing their talents, experiences and transformative ideas in leading art galleries and museums across Canada. The project benefits from a unique partnership with the Environics Institute, through its Black Experience Project, which is working on the first-ever comprehensive survey of the diverse communities that make up the region’s Black population.

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For more information, please contact:

Peter Flegel
Director of Programs & Communications
Michaëlle Jean Foundation

Caitlin Coull
Communications Manager
Art Gallery of Ontario
416.979.6660 ext. 364

Desmond Miller
Project Coordinator
Environics Institute for Survey Research
About the 4th Wall Program
In theatre, the “fourth wall” is an imaginary screen that creates a virtual separation between actor and spectator. There are many ways to cross the fourth wall and to make the invisible visible. The Michaëlle Jean Foundation chose to do so through the 4th Wall: Make the Invisible Visible program, in collaboration with several prestigious Canadian museums and art galleries. The goal is to invite young creators to break down the invisible walls that create solitudes between individuals and communities across Canada, by opening the doors of our major cultural institutions to emerging creators from marginalized backgrounds. The Foundation offers museum and art gallery space and bursaries to youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, often cut off from museums, so that they can produce original art that conveys their experiences, ideas and challenges. On display for the public to see, their work provokes debate and builds solutions. 4th Wall exhibitions have been featured at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, to mark Black History Month in collaboration with FRO Foundation, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, to celebrate World Pride 2014, and at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, to raise awareness about young Canadians’ perspectives on justice.

About the Black Experience Project
The Environics Institute, in partnership with Ryerson’s Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto, is launching a ground-breaking research study focusing on the Black community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The purpose of this study is to conduct seminal research to better understand the lived experiences of individuals within this community, and the factors leading to their success and challenges. Project results are expected to provide a focal point for the Black community to better harness its assets and expand its successes broadly throughout the entire community. It will help the community build on strategies to move forward, and it will also help the broader community (e.g., community leaders, decision-makers, public) understand and appreciate the vibrancy of the Black community within their vicinity.
For more information visit: www.environics.ca/bep-gta

About the Michaëlle Jean Foundation
The Michaëlle Jean Foundation supports youth arts initiatives that transform young lives and revitalize underserved communities across Canada. Through our programs, underprivileged youth are using their creativity to build new solutions to pressing social issues, like poverty, social exclusion and mental health. In so doing, they are catalyzing innovative community renewal projects, driving crucial Aboriginal cultural resurgence initiatives and kick-starting cutting-edge business ventures, all over the country. For more info: www.fmjf.ca.

About the Art Gallery of Ontario
With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. Visit ago.net to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partner