Engaging the child’s expressive and authentic spirit in First Nations and Métis communities

“Your program was awesome, inspiring, and phenomenal!”

By drawing on the artistry of the performing arts and the magic of creative play, Painted Turtle provides communities with a dynamic creative program. Keeping children busy and active in dance instruction, drama games, songs, visual arts projects and performances for their family and friends.

Painted Turtle hires local artists, educators, community mentors and youth workers to help support this imaginative and creative summer initiative.

Location: Canada

Programs: Summer Arts Camps, After School Arts Club, Educator Training Programs

Our mandate:

To nurture every child’s creative spirit through creative expression and play

To build a cohesive sense of community through educating artists, teachers, summer staff and community leaders on ways to integrate the arts through performance celebrations and art based experiences for summer camp

To offer opportunity for youth to be leaders in an arts based environment and enhance  their knowledge and interest in arts based activities

The need:

4 of 5 Indigenous children do not participate in extra-curricular arts activities [1]

The rate of suicide among Indigenous youth is five to six times higher than that of non-Indigenous youth

[1] Chiefs of Ontario (2017). First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education, and Employment Survey

[2]The Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (2017). Breaking Point: The Suicide Crisis in Indigenous Communities

Our Painted Turtle Arts Programs have been implemented more than 60 times in 46 First Nations and Métis communities over seven seasons (wow!). We are so proud of the impact we have had on these communities, and of the joy we have spread.

In December 2017 we brought youth and community leaders from First Nations and Métis communities to Toronto to engage in training for the Painted Turtle After School Arts Program, a pilot program intended to make arts programming sustainable in the Indigenous communities we work with. The program officially rolled out in January 2018 and since then free after-school arts programming has been running in 4 communities. We are so excited to run this program again starting this December!

Partnership with Right to Play

Partnership with Right to PlayWe are currently in our 7th season of partnership with Right to Play, a Canadian NGO that brings play-based learning to underprivileged kids all over the world. Our partnership gives us much needed support and guidance in our work in First Nations and Métis communities across Canada, so we can spread joy even further!


Visual Arts

Young children love to paint, cut, draw, glue, and design pictures. In this workshop, participants will explore colour and shape, and develop skills for making a variety of project that are inspired by their imagination. The crafts they will work on will include masks, creation of costumes and sets, painted rocks, necklaces and bracelets, identity scrap books. The focus of these activities is on encouraging manual dexterity, imagination, and creative skills.


These workshops will emphasize the importance and value of chants, sing-songs, and singing in the round. Chants and songs are an important and valuable teaching tool, which provide the child with the basic foundations upon which language and grammar structures can be built. Children will take the chants and songs they are playing with, and create something new with them. This act gives a feeling and sense of ownership.

Dance and Drama

The imagination of the young child is a garden of creative potential. Children are given an opportunity to cultivate those qualities as they discover enchanted worlds through, stories and dances from magical lands. This workshop will give participants fun and spirited ideas that help unleash the creative spirit of the child, through dance, drama games and performance.The focus will be on teaching children various skills and techniques to stimulate and develop their perceptual motor skills and their imagination. These workshops will include: Hip Hop Program, Creative and Expressive Dance, Improv, Drama Games, Tableau, Mask and Body Work, Mime.

Energetic Games

The purpose of these workshops is to offer children a group of outdoor and cooperative games that will not only promote teamwork, but will also develop the child’s physical capabilities and appreciation for the environment. These games are a way to have fun, express, allow them to build self-esteem, and develop a better sense of the world around them. These workshops will include: Sensory games, Cooperative, Low Organizational, Outdoor, Educational, Memory

Fitness and Health

These workshops will include a fitness program and healthy snacks that nourish the body.

“I love this program; it works!”

“The visual arts program allowed youth engage in unseen skills.”

“We would love for you stay longer!”

“The youth are willing to do more than I thought!”


98% of children surveyed wanted Painted Turtle Arts Camp to return to their community

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