Thursday, December 8, 2016

More NNA at the WFF

Other than carrying my mother's casket, I have never felt such a heavy weight of emotions than at the beginning of the Winnipeg Folk Festival welcoming ceremony conducted by Elder Mae Louise Campbell. It was as if my journey to Native North America and its reception around the world had finally sunk in. The WFF NNA V1 workshop was a celebration of music and culture, but also a time to reflect and pay respects to those who could not be w/ us. NNA V1 had taken 5 years of production for me to complete and as a Canadian-born/non-Indigenous person, I felt a very real responsibility, not only to Light in the Attic Records but most importantly to the artists, their families, and communities who made this project possible in the first place. For me, this was a learning experience, one far from over. The artists whose music, art, films, and poetry had inspired me so greatly all of those years ago had come together on that special day in part because of my actions and belief in their contributions (and the support of the WFF's Chris Frayer). I did not or do not take this lightly. Willy Mitchell w/ Elder Campbell (so empathetically photographed by Amanda Leigh Smith), Willie Thrasher, Linda Saddleback, Eric Landry, and Elder Dr. Duke Redbird had now become friends and family. This connection came from their musical history and my organic and passionate interest in it. The magnitude of this reality, the challenges that I faced completing the compilation, and the stories from the artists themselves raced across my mind, body, and soul like a freight train or herd of buffalos. I had to hold back with all of my strength from breaking down to the ground. I started to well up inside. I felt humbled like never before. The smoke, feathers, shell, smudging, drumming, chanting, words, blankets, gifts, and shared experience formed a greeting for the 30 or so in attendance, including Brian Bowman, the Mayor of Winnipeg, and eventually lifted my pressure to the sky. We were welcomed to Treaty 1 land. We were told about what it means to live in this fast-paced digital world while being aware of Mother Earth and the inhabitants of the land. We were loved. Like Willy, my head was also bowed. PEACE

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