The Drum is Calling Festival has been on all this month. The government has been doing a lot of deliberate reconciliation work, and as a settler Canadian, it’s good to see. But I still wonder how Indigenous people feel about it.
Tonight, I went out to see Buffy Sainte-Marie for the very first time. After her first song, she looked out at the dancing crowd and said, “My god, it’s good to see some people who know what a pow wow is.”
I don’t often find myself in majority Indigenous spaces. There’s a much larger population in downtown Vancouver than out in my suburban hometown. I came out to see Shane Koyczan perform a few nights ago, too, and both times, this one block in the downtown core has felt like a different city. Maybe the city we could be?
Buffy played all her hits. She told stories about singing with Muppets on Sesame Street. She reminded us how long she’s been fighting these same fights. She admitted she has always written pop songs–“The folk police would get after you.”
The crowd loved her. I had to take a break from the green turf dancefloor to find a seat in the back. I just couldn’t dance anymore, but everyone else kept going. As long as she wanted to play, they were there for her.
Buffy’s last words for the city: “Whatever you’re doing to make world better, just keep doing it.”
If everyone does that, we can move forward together.