Lost Lyrics

Lost Lyrics is part of a self-determined movement rooted in the exploration of alternative education. Created by Amanda Parris and Natasha Daniel, the vision of Lost Lyrics was inspired by the constraints and limitations of the public/ mainstream education system, as well as the inability to access and pursue various mediums of art in our communities. Replacing the blackboard-and-chalk, lecture-and-notes style of teaching, Lost Lyrics is a space somewhere between the streets and the classroom, which aims to continually provide more open and creative methods of engagement. Lost Lyrics is a part of The Base, a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Lost Lyrics core programs takes place in the communities of Malvern and Jane-Finch, which have been identified by the United Way as ‘priority neighbourhoods’. Lost Lyrics works with racialized youth who are living in these neighbourhoods and are between the ages 10-16. Some snapshots of what youth participants in our program face:

1. Gap between critical self-engagement and real life situation

Racialized youth in stigmatized communities feel disconnected from institutions like the education system; often unaware how to positively challenge a Eurocentric curriculum taught by teachers who often do not reflect their varying identities. Young people in our program identify issues such as violence, housing, mental health, sexuality and education as some of the primary issues that define their community.

2. Misunderstanding of racialized youth culture

The mainstream imagery of violence and hyper-sexualization in Hip Hop are often perceived as total representations of the culture and racialized youth culture.  However these depictions are only part of a larger societal context and history of patriarchy and a culture of violence that is not confined to Hip Hop and must be explored critically.  Lost Lyrics provides a space that does not define the world through Hip Hop but instead uses it to explore the historical, societal and political trends that have shaped the culture and our students.

3. Lack of safe spaces that creatively and critically engage youth

There is an array of community recreational programming which engages youth through sports and even through Hip Hop specifically. Young people in Jane-Finch and Malvern have an array of recreational programming available to them; but there is a lack of adequate spaces which commit to engaging content, analysis, critical reflection and choices that affect their lives before, during and after programming hours. 

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Amanda Parris and Natasha Daniel, like so many young people tried to find a place for themselves in the school system. While one attended high school in Ontario farm country and the other at an inner-city Toronto school, the difference of location was irrelevant as they both shared feelings of disconnect from the mainstream curriculum.

In 2007, the two best friends were provided the opportunity to work with some brilliant young people in the Jane-Finch and Malvern communities who also felt stigmatized in school and were looking for spaces to communicate, reflect and creatively share their stories. In A program without a name, without funding and without a curriculum was born. Operating on the overdraft of Natasha and Amanda’s bank accounts, young people between the ages of 11-15 defined the program, suggested lesson plans, critiqued ideas and provided continuous feedback. Students began to exude more confidence in themselves and created healthier relationships with teachers, families and friends.

Natasha and Amanda continue to dream what an ideal learning space can look like. Alongside an amazing team of community artists and educators they continue to spark the imaginations of numerous individuals across the city, creating what is now a collective dream.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • In 2011 received a Vital Youth award from the Toronto Community Foundation
  • 2009 Safe Spaces Award through the Girls Action Foundation
  • Since 2007 we have received financial investments from The Youth Challenge Fund, The Laidlaw Foundation, ArtReach Toronto, Lawson Fund, Social Investment Fund, Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council
  • Lost Lyrics has been invited to share learnings on our outreach strategies, engagement practices and arts-based methodologies at international arenas such as the United Nations Habitat Safe Cities Summit in 2008 in Durban, South Africa and the 2008 Organization of American States Ignite the Americas Summit
  • Students have performed and exhibited work at such events as the May Day No One is Illegal Rally, 106&York Artist Showcase, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and MuchMusic’s RapCity
  • Lost Lyrics has had the opportunity to engage hundreds of young people and adults across the city through invitations to conduct workshops in spaces such as:  The TDSB Black Students Equity High School Conference, the Sister 2 Sister Conference, the Urban Arts Young Women’s Leadership Forum, Free the Children Me to We Conference, Oakdale Middle School, Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School, Cedarbre Collegiate Institue and the TDSB Tools for Change Equity Conference

Our Programs How We Do It

The Blueprint After-School Program:

In this program, we engage critical themes of fluctuating self- identity with students between the ages of 11-15 in the communities of Malvern and Jane-Finch.  We have engaged themes such as sexuality, art as disruption, hood politics, global Hip Hop activism, the politics of drugs and the roots of beauty ideals. 

Artistic Development Weekend Program:

In this weekend program, students receive the opportunity to articulate the themes of Lost Lyrics through tangible artistic channels such as rap, recording, photography, film and visual arts.  These sessions bring together both students from the Eastside of the city (Malvern) and the Westside of the city (Jane-Finch) each weekend to the downtown core. 

Original Griots Internship Program:

The Original Griots is an internship program for the older students of Lost Lyrics who have grown up with Lost Lyrics and are now interested in translating and expanding their knowledge into tangible skills. 

The Live Report Card Showcase:

The Live Report Card is an annual event where our students as artists and advocates creatively share the knowledge they gain in Lost Lyrics programs with the community. 

Lost Lyrics Travelling Workshops:

Lost Lyrics offers workshops for community partners in schools, community centres and at conferences.

Program Impact

"The Lost Lyrics youth show an incredible confidence and knowledge, grown and nurtured through their participation in the program." – Laura Metcalfe, Jane-Finch Community Development Officer for the City of Toronto

"As a mom, the gap Lost Lyrics fills is something that our schools are not equipped to take on in a real way. ..through his participation in Lost Lyrics, my son, Isiah, has had a space to explore and discover his own identity. His confidence of self is out of this world and I know Lost Lyrics has an active role in where he is today." (Sabrina "Butterfly" Gopaul, Lost Lyrics mom)

Numbers Served: 700+

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Successful communities offer residents abundant, affordable and flexible opportunities to learn" (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2010)

- Lost Lyrics provides youth with learnings that are normally inaccessible in the mainstream education system, our programs are free, and curriculum is always flexible to meet the needs of our youth.

"The arts help fuel innovation and creativity - critical components for a successful city. The arts help us commemorate our past, understand our present, and imagine our future" (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2010)

- Lost Lyrics utilizes arts based tools of learning to explore the connection between past and present and tools for building new futures.

Participant Vignette

According to Danian, “Success, is a word I use as motivation.  It’s a bar that is set and is raised each time I clear it.  I feel I clear the bar every time I make somebody feel more confident and liberated or when I discover something new about myself.  I want to succeed as much as I want to breathe, and in the world today, they are both complicated tasks.  Lost Lyrics gave me the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people, challenge my opinions to give me a new lens to analyze the world we live in and start asking questions.  It was also a platform to get our voices heard and respected in the Toronto community.  I was exposed to African and Hip Hop culture making revolutionary history.”

Danian has been a creative force in Malvern from an early age and is now hailed as the renaissance man of Lost Lyrics due to his impressive skills on the mic and turntables, with the camera and through his published works. It is his drive, talent and uncompromising determination that makes him an ambassador of Lost Lyrics, as well as, one of Toronto's up and coming multi-disciplined artists to be reckoned with. Danian has excelled so much in our programming within the past few years; he has shown Lost Lyrics what it means to take things to the next level. Due to Danian's growth and the numerous successes of our other students, Lost Lyrics created an internship program for Blueprint graduates entitled, The Original Griots (OGs). Since getting his official OG status, Danian has used Lost Lyrics as a platform to further his own endeavours rocking stages at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Manifesto's Scarborough Fresh Fair, and the Toronto Center for the Arts, as well as being Co-Editor-in-chief for Say Word magazine and publishing articles for Urbanology, Canada's top Hip Hop magazine. He has since kicked off an early career at the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth where he works with other young people empowering them in ways similar to that of his own experience while co-founding youth-run organizations, Amplifiers and the Young Heavy Weights Media Group. Danian has since been discussing reconciliation strategies between First Nations and non-indigenous communities with the likes of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Marc Kielburger, Co-Founder of the charity Free the Children.  

What You Can Do

Summer Break Intensive Camps

Summer Break Intensive Camps combine the Blue-After School Program and the Artistic Development Program into an intensive Summer Camp, where new participants work with older Lost Lyrics students to create tangible tools for empowerment for themselves and their communities

Activities a donation will support

Investment in this program will allow us to expand our overall capacity and reach out to more young people throughout the city.  Money will go towards:

- Facilitator Fees

- Costs of transportation (as we travel all over the city to conduct workshops)

- Workshop Materials

- Outreach Materials (to help us spread the word on the programs)

Donation impact

With financial support, Lost Lyrics will be able to transcend the limitations of our consistent programming and connect with individuals all over the city. 

  • Participants will develop critical analysis and tangible strategies for social change through workshops.
  • Participants will create tangible tools for empowerment of themselves and their communities
  • The program will contribute to the creation a Lost Lyrics community that transcends geographical and ethno-specific boundaries by uniting young people from opposite ends of the city and various cultural backgrounds in a common analysis, vision and mission


Natasha Daniel
Co-Innovator and Director
Charitable Number: 130560188RR0001


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