Co-founders of MAPP CANADA – Brian Dodo and Shyra Barberstock with Brandon Barberstock, Indigenous Youth Ambassador, MAPP CANADA . – Photo credit Rye Barberstock.

By Carrie MacKenzie

KINGSTON – On May 10-12 “The Breakout Project” hosted groups of original, forward- thinkers from all over Canada. These teams were rivals in a 48 hour contest to encourage contributions of resources needed to take these proposals for year-long “social innovation” projects from the planning stages to implementation.  Two teams have chosen to focus on initiatives that assist with the needs of Indigenous communities in Canada.  One of these teams is MAPP Canada

MAPP Canada stands for Music, Art, People and Places and is a “social empowerment tool” that focuses on Indigenous peoples.  It was founded by two husband and wife teams about a year ago.  One couple is Shyra Barberstock and her husband and business partner Ryan Barberstock.  Both are Indigenous.  Mrs. Barberstock is a citizen of the Kebaowek First Nations in Kipawa, Quebec and her husband is a citizen of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Tyendinaga.  The other couple is Brian Dodo, who is Shona, indigenous to Zimbabwe and his wife Jen Cameron.

This initiative will showcase the diverse cultures, languages and talents of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.  The MAPP Canada team wants to empower Indigenous people to show the rest of Canada that there is a lot of strength and talent to be found in Indigenous communities giving them a renewed sense of pride.

They would like MAPP Canada to be a place that gives positive stories a voice and where they can be shared.  It is hoped that those reading these stories will be empowered by them.   These narratives can be about an Indigenous artist becoming recognized outside of their own community, or introduce a musician that we were unaware of.  Knowledge Keepers can also share their traditional stories.  Those sharing their story can tell it in their own Indigenous language as well.  This will generate an on-line “knowledge bank”.  The architects of this initiative hope that through exposure during “The Breakout Project” they will be able to get enough funding to be able to pay Indigenous youth for stories about their communities and posting them on MAPP Canada.

The idea for this initiative came from a conversation between the Barberstocks and Dodo.  They realized that, although the Indigenous cultures of Africa and Canada are different, there are experiences both can relate to.  For example, Dodo highlighted the fact that news stories about Africa predominately focus on the negative things that are happening, while the positive, uplifting stories are overlooked.

Shyra saw similarities with the coverage of First Nations issues in Canada.  While she didn’t want to take away from these stories she thought “there’s got to be good stories out there”.   She wanted to share these empowering stories, these good stories, because as Shyra said “good stories are also good medicine”.  This desire was the inspiration for MAPP Canada.  The founders also recognized that due to “MAPP Canada’s” focus on Indigenous people, its leaders need to be Indigenous so the Barberstocks are the majority owners of the project making it an aboriginal-owned venture.

For those wanting to share a story there are a number of ways that they connect with MAPP Canada – Facebook page, log on to their Twitter and Instagram accounts.  All social media platforms can be accessed from the “Breakout Project” website, https://www.thebreakoutproject.com.

MAPP Canada is not just a tool for Indigenous people.  It is hoped that non –Indigenous people will also use this platform to learn about the various rich and diverse First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures of Canada  The goal is that learning about these cultures will promote understanding and respect, aiding in reconciliation.  Also to ensure that everyone can access MAPP Canada, it is free for anyone to access and use.

This amazing initiative is well worth supporting by going to “The Breakout Project” website.  It is a tool to empower, inspire and teach. Its positive impact will last well beyond a year and spread outside of Indigenous communities.