About Dark Spark

Darkspark, founded in 2011 by Melissa Larkin and D'Ari Lisle, is an arts organization supported by ordinary people who believe small actions can make a big difference in the world. The founders took a small step. Now Darkspark is a growing community of multicultural change makers who intend to make a meaningful difference - bridging cultural division by investing in experiential opportunities for youth, based on music and pop culture.

Darkspark collaborates with youth to create and release pop songs to help reduce prejudice and promote cross-cultural understanding. Darkspark envisions an inclusive society that respects and celebrates diversity, in which engaged youth understand the power of their voices and use them for social change.

To learn more about Melissa, D'Ari and the Darkspark team CLICK HERE.


Four Directions Project

Click image to view the recap video that highlights the Ponoka program.

At Ponoka Secondary Campus, an exciting learning program for grade 7 students called ‘Darkspark’ took place from October 15-19, 2018. Over the week students created powerful art by assisting them in conceptualizing, writing and recording pop songs about how colonial history affects them, their families and communities. The instructors on this team sensitively and skillfully facilitated students creating songs for change and healing that teach, reclaim and reconcile colonial history, which is still very much a part of Canada's present. 

Four Directions Recap #4: Ponoka, AB!

Excerpt from the Darkspark team:

The fourth stop on our cross-country adventure with the #TheFourDirectionsProject was rural Ponoka, Alberta.

Surrounded by prairie fields and huge sky, Ponoka has a unique history that unraveled itself over the course of our week there. Ponoka is surrounded by First Nations territories, and while there, we learned that Ponoka itself used to be a reservation. We were blessed to collaborate with an incredible team of Elders, local Indigenous historians, and educators who taught us so much about this place, the land and the history we walked on while there.

This was a special week filled with a lot of fantastic learning and growth for students and staff alike. We worked with a group of 25 youth - both Indigenous and non, at a superstar school Ponoka Secondary Campus with Wolf Creek Public Schools.

Thank you to our amazing staff for your tireless effort - Tristan Bent for your workshop & storytelling skills, Memorecks for your jokes, beats & production love, and the man behind the lens of this video Zach Patton

Thanks to National Arts Centre / Centre national des Arts - Music Alive Program for their support of the Ponoka program.

Thanks also to our music sponsors: Slate Companies | MOTU | LANDR | Behringer | Valhalla DSP | U-HE | NATIVE INSTRUMENTS

For more information about #TheFourDirectionsProject please visit: www.darkspark.ca/fourdirections



The Songs

"We Gotta Learn" - Song 1

This group spent a lot of time thinking about the ways that history can repeat itself if you’re not careful. They had a lot of amazing conversations about judging others and how damaging that can be without knowing someone's story before you think you know what they’ve gone through.

In their own words: "Our song is called We Gotta Learn. Our group name is called the Gems. We wrote a song about not judging people and taking responsibility for our actions. This experience was very fun and meaningful. We hope you enjoy our song!”

Thanks to this group for their hard work and bravery in creating this song.


"Allies" - Song 2

This group from Ponoka, AB was comprised of students that live on or nearby neighbouring reservation Maskwacis, and students born and raised in Ponoka. There were so many different perspectives and stories amongst them, it was hard to make sure everyone's voice was represented. They decided to combine experiences in their lyrics and create a call to action in their chorus. They also referenced the Sharphead people, who they learned was a band of First Nations people, who were almost wiped out entirely to make way for the land to be settled by the Canadian Government.

In their own words: "We're called 6 Bucks and this is our song called Allies. We wrote it to educate people about reconciliation because people don't know enough about it. Hope you enjoy our song!”

Thanks to this group for their engagement in creating this!


"1604" - Song 3

These boys were inspired by dreaming up a vision for the future that was far more inclusive and informed than the present we live in.

In their own words: "Our group name is called All Kinds and our group song title is called 1604. Our song was about how everyone is different and everyone needs to try to understand where each of us has come from and try to accept each other. The week was very joyful. My favourite part was writing the song. Hope you enjoy the video!”


"When They Came" - Song 4

This group did such a fantastic job of working together and starting over and over again to make sure their song was the best it could be. They decided to write about settlers arriving in Canada from a variety of perspectives, but ultimately created a powerful anthem for ensuring our present is powerful in order to build a better future.

In their own words: "Our group name is Flying Colours and our song name is When They Came. The song is about when the Europeans first came to Canada and didn't understand the way the First Nations lived. What would have happened if people they had tried to understand?? We hope you enjoy our song!”


Thanks to Ponoka Secondary Campus of Wolf Creek Public Schools for your participation in #TheFourDirectionsProject

Thank you to our amazing staff: Tristan BentMemorecks, and Zach Patton.

Thanks to National Arts Centre / Centre national des Arts - Music Alive Program for their support of the Ponoka program.

Thanks also to our music sponsors: Slate Companies | MOTU | LANDR | 
Behringer | Valhalla DSP | U-HE | NATIVE INSTRUMENTS

For more information about #TheFourDirectionsProject please visit: www.darkspark.ca/fourdirections