Fearless, curious, respectful, and giving, may not be the words that come to mind when we think of the general stereotype of youth in society, but are appropriate when describing Mitchell Steeves, a youth in Wood Buffalo worth highlighting. Mitchell was born in Langley, BC and spent his early years in Salmon Arm, BC. At the age of nine, with an impressive and growing resume in the arts, Mitchell moved with his mother to Fort McMurray. His accomplishments to that point included a first place prize in the Shuswap Writers’ Guild Competition for his written and illustrated story “The Little Boy and the Giant Rat” and graduating from the Music for Young Children program where he first experienced the joy of music, while learning the basic skills necessary to build a strong future in music.
Not one to bask in the limelight, Mitchell may seem like an average teenager. However, his interests are expansive and achievements are notable. Now, as a youth attending Westwood High School, his interests include acting, painting, drawing, fabricating three-dimensional art, story writing, piano, bagpipes and his new found interest in filmmaking. He has participated in a youth theatre production with local theatre company Theatre; Just Because, spent a year in teen hip hop class at Generation Dance Studio, has displayed his visual art at McMurray Experience and the Timeraiser art exhibition, plays the bagpipes in the Legion Pipes and Drums Band, and has many small projects on the go. Most recently, Mitchell has partnered with an individual in Janvier for a video project that aims to share their incredible stories and show how we can respectfully learn from each other.
In addition to his vast interest in the arts, one of Mitchell’s favourite things to do is volunteer in the region. Mitchell has spent countless hours volunteering with the Wood Buffalo Food Bank, the Legion, Emergency Social Services, Wood Buffalo Recreation Society, and Arts Council Wood Buffalo. When reflecting on volunteering, Mitchell says, “The best part about being an avid volunteer is seeing the smiles on people’s faces and the great feeling of being useful.”
As someone who doesn’t always feel as though he fits in, he’s found his place within the arts. Mitchell explains, “When I am immersed in art, I don’t feel isolated, I know there’s a vibrant arts community thriving here in the RMWB, of which I am a proud member.” Mitchell goes on to say, “I am beginning to understand that art is life and life is art. Art is everywhere I look and it’s in everything I do… For me, art isn’t just simply making fancy objects, art is a way of life, a language, a way to connect people together regardless of age, gender, colour or religion. Art is the foundation of our society, and must grow to produce a rich and meaningful life.”
Many look at youth like Mitchell and see the potential our community has, where he looks at what the community is doing and sees the potential it has for him to prosper. “Being an artist here in the RMWB allows me the freedom to express myself creatively and to be accepted as a valuable community member who contributes culturally with the ability to fearlessly share my talents with others.”
As Mitchell has boasted, there is a vibrant arts community in Wood Buffalo! If you’re interested in being involved in the arts, connect with Arts Council Wood Buffalo through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn and on their website at www.artscouncilwb.ca.