When VIU Intercultural Program Coordinator Simon Schachner was asked to be on the planning committee for World VIU Days, he knew he wanted to do something with hip-hop.

Back in 2005, when Schachner was a VIU student, he attended an international hip-hop summit in Venezuela. The summit featured conscious hip-hop artists from around the world, as well as workshops, panel discussions, and discussion groups. Schachner was influenced by a discussion group on hip-hop as a social movement. At the time, there was global opposition to the war in Iraq, including an international event called Hip-Hop for Peace, which took a firm stand against the war. Schachner loved the idea and has helped organize Hip-Hop for Peace events in Nanaimo for five years.

“When I got the opportunity to be a part of the programing committee for World VIU Days I thought, okay, that vibe can work here,” Schachner said. “It can speak to the goals that we have in terms of celebrating diversity, bringing people together, and learning from each other in different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.”

Hip-hop is a genre that works in many different cultures across the world. Despite the popularity of commercial hip-hop, which often glorifies unhealthy lifestyles, there are a lot of conscious hip-hop artists both at home and abroad. “Conscious hip-hop” is best defined as hip-hop with a message;

The Intercultural Hip-Hop Forum featured distinguished Canadian hip-hop artists Ndidi Cascade, Nostic, Mo Moshiri, and Ostwelve. The forum also featured the award-winning local DJ, DJ All Good. Each of the artists come from a diverse background. Ndidi Cascade is of Nigerian-Irish-Italian-Canadian descent. She facilitates workshops that teach youth about hip-hop as a form of self-expression. Nostic is a Peruvian Canadian artist who raps in both Spanish and English. Mo Moshiri is a member of the Canadian hip-hop group Sweatshop Union. He was born in Iran, left for Germany as a refugee at age three, and became a Canadian citizen at age 19; he speaks Farsi, German, and English. Ostwelve is an indigenous emcee, actor, and youth facilitator from the Stō:lo Nation. DJ All Good was born in New Zealand and has been a long-time fixture in Nanaimo hip-hop, representing Harewood. He has a portable DJ studio housed in a large moving truck called the Turn Temple.

Together, the artists held workshops where students learned the history and elements of hip-hop. They also taught students how to scratch records and write rhymes. The Intercultural Hip-Hop Forum culminated in an open mic rap cypher at the VIU Student Pub. Before the cypher, a panel discussion was held on the top floor of the VIU library with Ndidi Cascade, Mo Moshiri, and Ostwelve. The trio of emcees spoke about their experiences with hip-hop, and how it transformed their lives.

“It’s been a really amazing experience,” Ndidi Cascade said. “I think this kind of event should happen all over the world. Events like these bridge the two worlds of street culture and academia. When we can make these connections and community, it helps in the healing of our world.”

Ndidi Cascade is one of the two artists in the forum who works as a youth facilitator. She says that in her work with youth, most young people respond to the movement of hip-hop, and the expression it allows.

“The reason why I love to facilitate workshops with young people is that I get to connect them with the roots of hip-hop,” she said. “I get to show them a side of hip-hop that’s not just party raps, or club tracks. It’s a side of hip-hop that has messages and is rooted in the empowerment of the voices of their people.”

Currently, feedback from the Intercultural Hip Hop Forum is being assessed to determine if the forum will become an annual event. Schachner is optimistic the event will be well received.

“I hope this will be an annual event,” Schachner said. “So far it’s off to a great start. Attendance has been good, and feedback has been positive. I do see it becoming an annual event, attracting artists from Canada, and maybe even beyond.”

If you would like to learn more about the events and artists, please visit: