Resurgence: Stories of Indigenous resilience & creativity

Telling stories is a profound way to reclaim, belong, and connect. And today, we are witnessing what looks like a renaissance. Everywhere, Indigenous creators are breaking down barriers and taking center stage to bring powerful messages to the people. As many of us take some time to reflect and rest, we invite you to discover these wonderful Indigenous artists. 

Saltwater Hank:  There’s something deeply emotional about hearing a young man sing in the language of his grandfathers. But the lump in your throat quickly turns to a bounce in your step when Jeremy Pahl, aka Saltwater Hank,  joins forces with his full band to bring a rock n’ roll take on stories of the land, loss, and ageless characters whose hearts and lives are on the line. His album, G̱al’üünx wil lu Holtga Liimi, translates to “bentwood box full of songs,” sung in the Sm’algya̱x language that Pahl has been painstakingly and ardently learning from his Tsimshian elders. Saltwater Hank rocked the tall ship stage of Festival Afloat last summer on Gabriola Island: stay tuned for future collaborations with RAVEN!

Helen Knott: We first met Helen Knott when she was heading up a caravan of Indigenous activists to travel across Canada in opposition to the Site-C Dam. Now her  memoir, Becoming a Matriarch, has wowed reviewers, won awards, sat atop bestseller lists and moved readers with a chronicle of grief, love, and legacy. The book is laced through with Knott’s sass, humour, and heart, taking the reader into the heart of Dane Zaa territory in northern BC as Knott reveals what matriarchy truly means. 

Jean Teillet: We all know a bit about Louis Riel from history class, but in Metis lawyer Jean Teillet’s sweeping account, an entire people come to roaring life. The Northwest is Our Mother tells the story of the Metis as a flamboyant, defiant, and visionary People with big dreams. Teillet’s book boldly reframes the acts of resistance led by Riel as moments that reverberate to this day. An engaging must-read for anyone who wants to understand what reconciliation really requires of each of us. 

Crystal Lameman has been leading the struggle of her Beaver Lake Cree Nationfor over a decade, pushing back in the courts and through national and international forums to call for sanity in the Alberta tar sands. She is also an author and academic, government relations advisor and treaty coordinator. In her essay, collected in the book “The End of This World”, she advocated for the advancement of Indigenous economic, energy, and food sovereignty, and the realization of holistic wellness through her nêhiyaw ways of knowing and meaningful land-based practices. We are excited to be part of promoting this collection, which bring vital Indigenous voices to the forefront of the climate justice movement.

Going to court to defend lands and waters is one element of Indigenous cultural resurgence that we celebrate here at RAVEN. Because of your support,  Nations are more free to use precious community resources to invest in education, health care, and the flourishing of up-and-coming young leaders.

The tapestry of stories from the last year have been complex: beautiful and mucky, awe-inspiring, and, at times, scary. We are grateful to the Indigenous artists, thinkers and creators who have helped navigate the layers: confronting loss and grief — and uncovering unexpected beauty. We hope you can gather round the virtual campfire with us and dive into some songs and stories that matter this season. 

photos by Syd Woodward, Sweetmoon Photography, Avi Lewis/The Leap. Art by Christi Belcourt

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