Meet The Founder
At Outside Looking In, our mission has always been to empower Indigenous youth. Through the transformative art of dance and our numerous programs, we ensure we strengthen our communities in the process. OLI today has the same intentions as when we started the organization 14 years ago; we have always provided a platform for Indigenous youth to shine. It's their own space, a space where they can perform, learn, connect, be heard, and in the process feel one with their community.
As a parent, I now reflect on why I started OLI, an organization that I deem to be my first kid, and I haven't really talked about it. I'd love to share my story…
My mother is Indigenous and is from Missanabie Cree, and my father is non-Indigenous. Growing up, I was able to dance; professionally and pursue my passions, but I do remember my daughter asking my mom, what kind of activities did you take up while growing up? She asked if her grandmom danced like I did? My mom, with a heavy heart, said, no! I didn't get to do anything. And she didn't, she didn't have access to all those things, so in a way, when I started with OLI, I thought I'm doing this program for my mother! For the childhood my mother never had, I always wanted to make sure that these kids have a childhood because my mother didn't.
Dance was always a stress reliever for me, and I had lots of energy, so I needed to channel that energy. Hence when I started OLI, dance was at the center of all our efforts to provide a platform for youth to express themselves through choreography and a streamlined credit-based system.
Over the years, through our programs such as RBC Future Leaders and Work/Study programs, we intend to be their ultimate growth partners. We are taking the kids on a whole journey through their life. Hopefully, carrying them into adulthood with the support and encouragement to be the best that they can be.
For our communities, parents, and decision-makers, I urge them, If they want to see the best version of their children come out, come through, then have them come through a program like ours. So, make the right choice and help themselves with our Outside Looking In programs.
Come be a part of the change you wish to see. Be a part of our journey and step towards a rhythmic movement for the change for good. We hope you see the limitless possibilities for our communities, especially when you look with us, look outside while looking in!
Tracee Smith - CEO & Founder, Outside Looking In