N.B. artist raising funds to expand Elsipogtog’s Sistema program

By Suzanne Lapointe- Global News


Fredericton-based artist Bronwyn Robichaud is donating proceeds from the sale of her artwork to support Sistema’s program in Elsipogtog First Nation.

Sistema is an organization that provides free after school music programs in nine regions in New Brunswick.

It aims to build confidence and self-esteem through music in youth with limited means.

“It’s helping (the children) strive for excellence and showing them they can do whatever they put their minds to and the arts have taught that to me,” Robichaud said.

“I really want that be passed on to other generations.”

There are currently 28 students from the Elsipogtog First Nation Community School enrolled in the Sistema program.

Sistema Elsipogtog centre director Swan Serna said they’re hoping to hire another teacher and add 20 seats to the program.

Daniel Milliea and Brian Augustine travel to Moncton twice a week to play with the Moncton Youth Orchestra.
Swan Serna said those who have shown advanced capabilities like Daniel can move to the regional orchestras, and eventually to the provincial orchestra. He said they hold a lottery to decide who can take one of the coveted 28 spots.

The program receives funding from the provincial government, the Elsipogtog First Nation Band and private donors.

Serna said the musical education helps the kids grow in other ways.

“In the way they practise focus, for example, when you are learning how to read music you need to focus on the paper, the notes the rhythms,” he said.

“So that helps them a lot with day-by-day class participation in school, so music is an incredible tool.”

Holden Milliea said he’s loved every minute of the two years he’s played violin with the group.

“The thing about it is you just get to hear the joy of the violin, all the music is just so good and so great!” he said.

Serna said those who have shown advanced capabilities can audition move to the regional orchestras, and eventually the provincial orchestra.

Eighth graders Daniel Milliea and Brian Augustine made the cut and travel to Moncton twice a week to play with Moncton’s Sistema group.

Daniel said Sistema helped him break out of his shell and make new friends.

“I like it because it socializes me and it’s just … being in an orchestra,” he said.

Robichaud launched an art exhibition at Epoch Chemistry Coffee House on Thursday. Twenty per cent of the proceeds of each print and painting sold will go toward Sistema’s Elsipogtog centre.

She said she got the idea from Epoch Chemistry owner Conor Conway, a former Sistema instructor.

Proceeds from their newly launched coffee blend will also go to the program.

Robichaud said she’d already sold a few pieces and had some inquiries.

Her goal is to raise $6,000 for the group.