All the members of a student ensemble taking part in a unique mentorship with Indigenous artists are in their first year, except two.
Jadon Haughton, 23, is a third-year Applied Music student at Mohawk College, majoring in drums and percussion.
Haughton says being mentored by artists like The Six Nations Women Singers and Rick McLean, while working with other young likeminded musicians, is “remarkable.”
“For me, that is just such a healthy reminder of why I got into music,” Haughton said.
While Haughton has had a variety of mentors during his studies, he says this project offers a lot for students looking to try new things and learn more about themselves.
The ensemble will spend the current term meeting as a group with the Indigenous artists, using an unconditioned creative space as a model for cultural engagement and exchange.
Professor Bob Shields, the event organizer, said he picked Haughton to participate because he is adaptable, social and a fast learner.
“Jadon is a real nice, sociable person. He knows how to handle himself in new and unfamiliar environments,” Shields said.
This was important when the professor was picking students to participate in the project for the first time.
“I remember in one of our first meetings Bob said he picked us because he likes the way we view music, and that was something very impactful,” Haughton said.
First-year music student Arend Tigchelaar said that meeting Haughton and building a friendship made school more fun.
“I don’t think (Shields) could have picked anyone better (for the project),” Tigchelaar said, “he’s a very passionate musician. And I think that’s exactly the type of person you need for something like this.”
Haughton said learning in this way forces students out of their comfort zone, but it is essential.
“It just takes a sense of openness and vulnerability,” Haughton said.
“Sometimes we don’t put ourselves in other people’s shoes – and that line between apathy and empathy, I’ve seen in my own life and for people in my life, can be very thin if you don’t become aware of these thoughts,” he added.
This is a project that involves active reconciliation, which Haughton says needs to be ongoing and is something to which he is looking forward.