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Meet Jeremiah, A VERSIONS 2023 Grad

  • Darkspark

In this series, we’re highlighting our VERSIONS Alumni. You’ll learn about their transformative journeys with and through the VERSIONS Youth Fellowship.



Growing up in a community riddled with addiction and trauma, Jeremiah, a First Nations musician, found solace in music. Surrounded by a cycle of violence and substance abuse, he faced the grim reality of limited opportunities and systemic racism. At a young age, he made a conscious decision to steer clear of the destructive path laid out before him. He remembers thinking to himself, “I could be like the people around me, or I could not be like them.” 

With a broken, one-string guitar, Jeremiah began his musical journey as a means of coping and self-expression. Little did he know that this decision would not only save his own life but become a lifeline for others in his community.

Surrounded by adversity, Jeremiah clung to his music as a beacon of hope. Through his art, he found purpose and resilience, defying the odds stacked against him.

Jeremiah reflects on his early days, saying, “Music was my way of holding on to who I was as a person. Whenever I picked up a guitar, it was my way of expressing and communicating what was going on inside of me.” His music became a channel for pain, a means of connecting with others, and ultimately, a catalyst for change.

A Childhood Defined by Resilience

While other children saw themselves as scientists, presidents, teachers, and artists, Jeremiah’s outlook on the future was more grim. He predicted he’d be incarcerated or dead by seventeen. Reflecting on his past, Jeremiah shares, “I didn’t see a future for myself. I didn’t think I would make it past seventeen, and if I did, I would be in prison.” 

After his grandmother was killed as a result of systemic violence in the police force and healthcare system, Jeremiah couldn’t see a reason to live. He surrounded himself with criminals, and at one point, he even put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. 

It wasn’t his time to go.

With the support of his uncle, Jeremiah found a way out of a life plagued by violence and despair and into the world of music.

From Trauma to Transformation

One of the first steps Jeremiah took to take charge of his life was to prioritize college. He’d always had an interest in music and decided to become a certified music engineer. But his interest in pursuing music wasn’t to reach fame; it was to inspire other youth struggling to stay alive. 

“Music was the thing that kept me alive in a system designed to break me. It was my lifeline.”

In early 2021, Jeremiah developed a program called Healing Through Music, where he used music to teach trauma therapy and coping skills to at-risk youth who come from similar backgrounds as himself. Since then, he’s been working on the frontline with First Nation communities, providing mental health support and crisis and suicide intervention. His music program connects youth with emergency response teams from their communities while allowing them to express their trauma and their stories and alleviate some of their pain. 

Confronting Systemic Injustice

Jeremiah has witnessed firsthand the deep-rooted issues facing Indigenous communities in Canada. Despite these challenges, Jeremiah remains undeterred in his mission to effect positive change through his music and activism.

Jeremiah’s experiences have fueled his determination to speak out against systemic racism and injustice. He shares, “It’s something that’s been normalized in Canada, where Indigenous people face higher murder and human trafficking rates. Systematically, police or municipal governments don’t assist us. And it’s okay in their eyes to avoid or ignore Indigenous people and their needs.”


Around the time Jeremiah developed Healing Through Music, he also discovered the VERSIONS Youth Fellowship Program. He’d always seen music as a powerful tool for healing, but this program offered him something more: an opportunity to not only hone his craft but empower others through his music. 

For so long, Jeremiah had been focusing on others. He set himself and his needs aside to ensure other people were taken care of. But, he was searching for an opportunity to invest in himself, to grow while continuing to make a meaningful difference in his community.

A Transformative Experience

Jeremiah’s outlook on life is grounded in reality. He believes hard work is key to making the most of opportunities. “You can have the best mentorship from the most successful person in the world, but it will not change your path or life outcome. It all comes down to the work you put in and what you do with the opportunities that come your way.” 

For Jeremiah, VERSIONS was one of the potentially life-changing opportunities he realized he’d get only as much as he gave to it. In the program, young leaders and musicians are taught by leading minds and industry professionals, and doors are opened. It shows the possibilities of what could be, but ultimately, it’s up to the youth to take the tools and resources and run. 

To Be a Better Leader

Participating in VERSIONS proved to be a turning point for Jeremiah. Through self-reflection and mentorship, he gained invaluable insights into the importance of self-care. The program equipped him with the tools and support needed to navigate his journey as a musician and community leader.

Reflecting on his experience with VERSIONS, Jeremiah shares, “The fellowship helped me realize that all my energy was focused on other people without taking care of myself. I would sacrifice all my time to others and drain myself completely dry. But now, I understand the importance of setting boundaries and prioritizing my own well-being to better show up for others.”

VERSIONS knows leaders need to take care of themselves before they can take care of others. Especially leaders like Jeremiah, whose community work can be emotionally taxing – helping people to escape human trafficking and combat drug epidemics. He needs to be mentally, physically, and emotionally strong. Jeremiah says, “Before VERSIONS, I had no support and no time for myself. I was on the verge of breaking but pushed through because other people needed me. But that was causing a standstill in my work; both the bigger work for the community and my career where it blocked my advancement.” 

Through mentorship, coaching sessions, and workshops, Jeremiah came to understand himself and his limits better and learned how to show up for himself and others. Jeremiah has emerged as a stronger and more resilient leader, committed to uplifting his community while prioritizing his own mental health and well-being.

Jeremiah says, “I used to feel guilt whenever I would do anything for myself. I would feel like I’m being a very selfish person, even for resting, because there are so many other people who need me or are going through hell and who may die. And I think it’s also a reflection of how much grief and loss I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Jeremiah emphasizes the importance of self-care, saying, “To become a better leader, I had to take care of myself instead of everyone else first.” He acknowledges the challenges of balancing his advocacy work with his own well-being but remains committed to finding a sustainable balance.

Jeremiah’s Social Impact Project

As part of the program, all Fellows are guided through designing and implementing a social impact project. Jeremiah facilitated a two-week drop-in where he collaborated with local organizations to provide youth with a nutritional supper each day and established connections between at-risk youth and crisis intervention as well as suicide prevention counsellors. Additionally, Jeremiah played a crucial role in organizing and facilitating an emergency response meeting with community leaders, addressing the mounting drug epidemic impacting Fort Albany youth.

A Note to Future Applicants

For those considering joining VERSIONS, Jeremiah offers words of encouragement and advice. “Be very open-minded. Do not assume that you know everything there is to know. Don’t expect a handout. This program will open you up in ways you may not be ready, but you’re never going to be truly ready. Be very open to diving into who you are as a person, your trauma, or your story, and be ready to take ownership and control of it.”

Versions Transformed His Life

The year-long program was designed to holistically support and grow participants. Jeremiah says VERSIONS changed his life. “My life quality increased exponentially because of what I was taught. What this program helped me with was creating boundaries, setting a standard for myself around how I interact with people, and allowing myself to take control of who will interact with me. It has also helped me improve my self-respect and increased my knowledge of how to take care of myself. And because of that, I’m able to excel in the field I do.”

Jeremiah is proud of the hard work he’s done to get where he is. “It’s not by luck; it’s earned. It almost feels like life said, ‘We put you through so much, and because you’re still not giving up, go ahead and take what you’ve earned.’ And now it feels a little weird because there were so many barriers put in front of me for my entire life, and it feels like all those old hurdles are things that I can easily walk over now.”

From the depths of trauma and despair, Jeremiah has emerged as a beacon of hope and resilience in his community. Through his music and activism, Jeremiah continues to inspire others to find strength and healing in the face of adversity. 

Reflecting on his journey, Jeremiah says, “I was a broken person. It took a lot of work to process what I’ve been through and to get to a point where I could discuss my story so openly.” He remains committed to using his platform to advocate for change and empower others to find their voices through music.

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