Burnaby Mountain Secondary’s choir collaborated with a local Indigenous hip-hop artist named Theresa Warbus, who performs as Keliya. She created a music video for her song, “Take Us,” that was released at the end of May. The video and lyrics celebrate Indigenous culture, diversity, and self empowerment.
As she was pulling together the concept, the artist decided she wanted a high school choir to be a part of it. Burnaby Mountain choir teacher Deanna Gestrin seized the opportunity for her students and wrote a choral arrangement for the song. Before filming, the 90-member concert choir rehearsed for three weeks.
The artist’s aim for the video was to challenge stereotypes of disenfranchised people. One of the students, who was quoted in the Burnaby Now, described the song as “inspiring” and “about bringing everybody up.”
For Gestrin, it was also a chance for her students to explore a more modern genre of music and to collaborate with an Indigenous artist living in the community. Students were asked to wear something for the filming they felt represented them. The choir’s scenes were filmed in February in one of Burnaby Mountain’s music rooms with Keliya rapping, while backed by the choir.