A Community of Kindred Spirits

Natasha Duchene – Student Story

Originally from Nova Scotia, Natasha Duchene spent the last 6 years living in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories working as an arts educator, film maker and musician; three threads that ultimately led her to the world of Expressive Arts Therapy.

Natasha studied music at university and has released two albums, ‘Inside Journeys Outside’ in 2013 and ‘Kindred’ in 2016. However, it wasn’t until she started doing vocal improvisation in groups, that Natasha fell in love with process-oriented, rather than product-oriented, work.

“I did three weeks of singing with 18 other singers and it was just incredible,” Natasha said. “It was a heart-opening, connecting and musically fulfilling experience. I was hooked!”

After years of work Natasha was tired of being a freelance artist, “It was a lot of hustling and paperwork and not a lot of art and creativity. I wasn’t happy in that work and had been in denial for a long time. I started waking up to the fact that it wasn’t living up to what I wanted it to be.” Natasha’s experiences did however help her recognize the enormous potential for growth and transformation in working with groups creatively.

Her foray into film happened by chance while she was involved with a fundraising campaign for an animal shelter in Yellowknife. “The whole community came behind the project. It was inspiring to be a part of and witness,” Natasha said.

She told some of her filmmaking friends the story about the community, and they encouraged her to pursue it. She secured some funding and made the documentary ‘North Paws’ which won Best International Short Documentary at the Good Dog Film Festival and Best Feature Documentary at the Yellowknife Film Festival.

Since then, Natasha facilitated a community filmmaking project with Dene Youth in collaboration with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research. The project taught youth about climate change and helped them develop their own climate change adaptation strategy and a documentary about it.

Natasha also facilitated an after school program for youth in collaboration with a music industry conference. “I realised I was getting really fired up about these community projects! I loved working with these youth and finding performance opportunities for them.”

After hearing about Expressive Arts Therapy and doing some research, Natasha realised that it was the perfect combination all the different threads of her life.  She enrolled in the program at the Vancouver School of Expressive Arts Therapy, moved to Vancouver and the rest is history! “The whole program was amazing. I loved it. I feel really grounded in this work and like I have found a community of kindred spirits that I will be connected to for the rest of my life.”

Now she has graduated, Natasha will be moving back to Yellowknife at the end of summer to open a private practice where she hopes to work with a mixture of youth and adults.