Youth music mentorship with Missy Knott

Posted on September 2, 2021 in Client Stories, YES Stories

When in the Indigenous RISE Youth Housing Program, Caleb* chatted regularly to YES staff Katie, about becoming a rapper. Caleb would come down to the office (downstairs from where he lives, and where Katie works) and share his lyrics. Sometimes Katie would sing while Caleb was rapping, and they developed a good rapport through music.  

Indigenous RISE

The Indigenous RISE Youth Housing Program supports Indigenous young people who would otherwise be homeless with a safe place to live, supportive staff, and connection to services that will help them develop into stable adults. It’s staffed with an Indigenous Support Worker (Katie), and involves Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre and other partners across the community.

Caleb wanted to know as much as possible about his own Indigenous identity, culture and history of colonization on Turtle Island. He started writing more and more music about his Indigenous perspective, often inspired by artists like Wab Kinew and Snotty Nose Rez Kids, about the daily injustice experienced by Indigenous people.

An incredible connection

Katie reached out to a local recording artist from Curve Lake; Missy Knott, founder of Wild Rice Records and Missy agreed to take Caleb on in her mentorship program.

When Caleb and Missy first connected, there was a lot to unpack. They talked for hours about colonization, western society and Caleb’s power as an indigenous youth in music. The work with Missy and Caleb was further facilitated by Missy’s own experience. When Caleb understood that Missy had the same types of struggles around being an Indigenous young person in music, and has in the past worked through homelessness herself, they established a mutual respect that helped things flow.

Missy Knott of Wild Rice Records chatted with me in park one afternoon about the mentorship program while her daughter Lyric coloured and made her own recordings on her mom’s cell phone.

In their time together, they recorded 7 tracks featuring Caleb’s lyrics that he can now share with friends, family and potentially funders that can help Caleb continue in music. He even wrote a song about Missy, that showed his appreciation for her guidance.

The talent and drive to keep going

Caleb’s now comfortable creating music and putting it out there. He knows what he sounds like when he raps and knows what it’s like to be recorded. “He is not a big artist yet,” Katie states, “but he has talent and drive to share his message with not just Canada (Kanata), but the world.”

It’s pretty great what happens when you support someone into safety, and then encourage them to dream.

We’re super grateful to Missy Knott for her incredible mentorship program through Wild Rice Records. For those of you who could be interested, contact her at:

*Caleb’s name has been changed to protect his privacy

This work was made possible by the RBC Foundation.