As someone who was once a troubled youth, Brandon Block is fighting stereotypes and showing today’s youth they can do anything.
“When I was 13 I didn’t want to listen to my parents anymore,” Block said. He left home and started down a road that went from drinking, to drugs, to fighting and eventually incarceration.
It wasn’t until he became a dad that he “smartened up.”
That was eight years ago and Block, 22, now works at Reconnect Youth Services, working with at-risk youth. He also helps people learn computer skills, teaching them about the Internet and how to make resumes.
Beyond the straight-forward social work, Block gets positive messages out through rap.
Under the stage name Brandogg, he talks about issues facing him, Aboriginals and society.
He focusses on sending a positive message to the audience.
“We’re always marked as drug users and thieves, but that can be said about any race,” Block says.
“I do it so people will at us as people, not dirty Indians.”
His stage work came in handy when he hosted the talent contest at the Gathering Our Voices aboriginal youth conference last week.
Brandon says his work on the stage and with Reconnect shows the sterotypes don’t have to be followed.
“I’m a youth leader in the community and people see me as that.”
His leadership extended to the slopes this winter.
Block took part in the Chill Snowboarding program at Tabor Mountain.
Chill took at-risk youth and taught them to snowboard and showed them how to use the lessons learned on the slopes in every-day life.
Block was part of the pilot program that ran last year and returned this season as a peer chaperone.
Working with youth is rewarding for him, he says, because it lets him do for youth what was done for him.