Take Heart Niagara, We had Buffy here for the Celebration of Nations!

A nod to something REALLY GOOD that happened in Niagara this past week

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted September 15th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

With all of the crap that rained down on our heads this past week around the God-awful Niagara Peninsula Development Authority (or was that once the Conservation Authority?) and regional council, it does one’ body and soul well to recall that we had legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, in our midst, if only for a few precious days.

Buffy Sainte-Marie injected some welcome words of wisdom, strength and inspiration into the Niagara scene this last September 8-10 weekend, and we sure needed them.

Here all the way from her haven of a home in Hawaii, Buffy was at Niagara’s FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines this past September 8th and 9th for the weekend-long ‘Celebration of Nations’ with friends and neighbours from this great continent’s Indigenous communities.

On the opening night of the Celebration, the Juno, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning artist performed in concern at the Arts Centre and the following afternoon she joined a panel discussion with Canadian dancer Santee Smith,   Allison Fisher, executive director of Ottawa’s Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, and artist Denise Bolduc, recipient of the 2017 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Award, in a ‘Moccasins Talk’ on activism, resistance and resilience.

It proved to be an empowering exchange for those on the panel and those of us who listened and, at one point, Buffy was asked, to a round of applauce, to recite the lyrics to a song called Carry It On from her 2015 Polaris Music Prize-winning album Power in the Blood.

She obliged and the lyrics, worth all the world’s attention, go like this –

“Hold your head up
Lift the top of your mind
Put your eyes on the Earth
Lift your heart to your own home planet
What do you see?
What is your attitude
Are you here to improve or damn it
Look right now and you will see
We’re only here by the skin of our teeth as it is
So take heart and take care of your link with Life and

Oh carry it on – We’re saying
Oh carry it on – Keep playing
Oh carry it on – And praying

It ain’t money that makes the world go round
That’s only temporary confusion
It ain’t governments that make the people strong
It’s the opposite illusion
Look right now and you will see
They’re only here by the skin of our teeth as it is
So take heart and take care of your link with Life

Oh carry it on – Keep saying
Oh carry it on – And playing
Oh carry it on – And praying

Look right now and you will see
We’re only here by the skin of our teeth as it is
So take heart and take care of your link with

Life is beautiful
If you got the sense to take care of your source of perfection
Mother Nature She’s the daughter of God and the source of all protection

Look right now
And you will see she’s only here by the skin of her teeth as it is
So take heart and take care of your link with Life

Oh carry it on – Keep saying
Oh carry it on – And playing
Oh carry it on – Keep on praying”

The topic of truth and reconciliation inevitably came up and the panellists agreed that, given the many challenges indigenous people continue to face across the country, they is still a lot of work to do on the truth part yet before reconciliation has any chance of being fully realized.

“I’m not yet ready to do a happy dance,” said Buffy, who recommended three books she feels everyone should read on the road to getting there.

Those books are ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, Indian Givers; How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World by Jack Weatherford and The Other Slavery; the Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andres Resendez, with the third one receiving particular emphasis as a must-read for those wanting more understanding of why and how the wounds going back to the beginning of colonialism on this continent are taking so long to heal.

More than once during the discussion, she urged indigenous people to avoid addiction and to stand up against abuse and bullying – excellent advice for all of us to move forward with in a region where more of us need to be standing up to behaviour of that sort from some of those we’ve made the mistake of election to positions of power.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

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For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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2 responses to “Take Heart Niagara, We had Buffy here for the Celebration of Nations!

  1. A couple of additional suggestions: “Unsettling Canada” by the late Arthur Manuel. And “Clearing the Plains” makes an excellent (if difficult to read) foil to “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee”. Where the American used guns, we used starvation. And it was government policy, folks.

    Like

  2. Thomas King’s continuing bestseller “The Inconvenient Indian” is striking, remarkable, a must read. Please add to the list. King is Canadian and indigenous. It is not a polemic, full of wisdom and humour.

    Liked by 1 person

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