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Helping future stars shine

Alan Greyeyes serves as mentor to young athletes, aboriginal artists

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Alan Greyeyes’ impact on Canada’s aboriginal music scene can be heard across the country. At the age of 34, he has used his skills, expertise and positioning within the music industry to mentor and build some of this country’s most promising burgeoning talent.

But those close to Greyeyes will also tell you he is a devoted father of three beautiful children and that his passion for music can only be matched by his passion for coaching his children’s sports teams.

A member of the Peguis First Nation, Greyeyes grew up in Winnipeg and received a BA in economics from Trent University in 2003. For the last eight years, he has worked as the aboriginal music program coordinator for Manitoba Music.

Greyeyes played an instrumental role in the implementation of the groundbreaking Aboriginal Music Performers Camp (known as AMP Camp), a unique initiative that offers developing artists a safe space to develop their creativity and networks.

"It’s the pace of the music industry, the challenge, that I really love," says Greyeyes. He loves to listen to music, but admittedly doesn’t play any instruments. But his talents are many — from creating solid business proposals, grant proposals and graphic designs, to being able to recognize great musicians within the industry.

Greyeyes is the founding vice-chairperson of the Manito Ahbee festival and the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. He also volunteers on the board of Aboriginal Music Manitoba and is the founder of Aboriginal Music Week.

Celebrating its fifth year, Aboriginal Music Week is a popular festival that presents native, Métis, Inuit, and indigenous artists performing a wide variety of genres, including hip hop, electronic, world, folk, country and blues music.

The event is completely volunteerrun and Greyeyes is a pivotal force, waiting until after he tucks the children into bed before getting down to work into the evening writing proposals and organizing every last detail of the festival.

"There are not a lot of opportunities for aboriginal artists to perform," says Greyeyes. "It’s important for me, as an aboriginal person working a full-time job in the music industry to help other aboriginal people launch their music careers."

Greyeyes takes equal pride in volunteering his time with his children’s sports teams, coaching his eldest son’s hockey and soccer teams. He laughs, saying he has a clipboard all ready to go for when his two youngest daughters, presently only one and two years of age, are older and ready to play sports.

"When it comes to the sports side of volunteering, it’s an opportunity to show the community aboriginal people have the ability to give back and are strong leaders," says Greyeyes. "Where I coach, there aren’t a lot of aboriginal people and it’s important to me to show a positive image, be a positive representative of the aboriginal community."

Greyeyes beams with pride as he tells how his son is now starting to follow in his footsteps and volunteer his time helping coach hockey. He thinks it’s important to get young people involved in volunteering as it helps build leadership skills and experiences.

On Jan. 25, Greyeyes received the arts award at the 5th Annual Future Leaders of Manitoba Awards event, recognizing him as one of Manitoba’s brightest talents.

"Alan, through his commitment to aboriginal music and his demonstrated excellence in mentorship in the music community, as well as his natural enthusiasm, charisma, and good nature, is a very deserving recipient of the arts award," says Chris Loewen, president of Future Leaders of Manitoba.

 If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Carolyn Shimmin-Bazak at carolynshimmin@gmail.com.

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