Make Music Matter founder and chief executive officer Darcy Ataman will be awarded the Order of Manitoba on July 14 for his dedication to enriching the lives of vulnerable populations in conflict and post-conflict zones.
The Order of Manitoba was established as the province’s highest honour in 1999 and recognizes individuals who’ve demonstrated excellence and exceptional achievements in their respective fields.
Make Music Matter helps to empower marginalized voices with its Healing in Harmony music therapy program. It was initially designed for trauma survivors and has been clinically proven to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
Ataman developed the Healing in Harmony therapy model alongside Nobel laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
From survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in that country to young Syrian refugees with disabilities, Healing in Harmony has helped transform the lives of more than 8,500 individuals in eight countries.
Ataman is actively working with partners to bring the model to Indigenous communities in Canada and address the generational trauma they’ve endured.
“Establishing trust and building relationships within the communities we serve is critical,” Ataman said in a media release.
“The only reason I have been successful is because extremely vulnerable people are essentially allowing me into their home and letting us be of service to them. It’s a completely symbiotic relationship.”
Program participants emerge with original songs that are professionally produced and serve as advocacy tools to promote their rights and combat stigma.
Various research studies have demonstrated the significant positive impact that Healing in Harmony has had on the mental health of trauma survivors. This data and interactions with participants in the field, who emerge from the program with a renewed sense of agency and self-worth, have kept Ataman going.
“In one session I asked the women how they thought I perceived them, and one of them stood up to say, ‘I used to think you saw us as completely worthless human beings because we had been raped, but now I think you see us as artists,’” Ataman said in the release.
Ataman is a passionate advocate of the power of the arts to heal, and regularly speaks at local, national and international events. He also co-founded A4A Records and Publishing, which supports musicians in impoverished areas, with Grammy Award-winning producer David Bottrill.
The music is released globally on all major streaming platforms through A4A Records, with distribution through Warner Music Canada.
A new publishing model helps to ensure that all royalties from the songs are sent back to the artists and their communities, regardless of socio-economic circumstances.