Whitefish Bay youth powerfully demonstrate musical skills and talents

 

Natalie Copenace Kelly - credit Karli Zschogner 2
Natalie Copenace-Kelly, 14 of nearby Onigaming First Nation, sings cover of “Beautiful Thing” by Grace Vanderwaal (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

Live performances and movie screening at Netaawgonebiik Health Centre captivates audience.

By: Damon Hunter

The once quiet healing room of the Netaawgonebiik Health Centre had transformed into a flashing sequence of revolving lights and was cheerfully occupied by an applauding crowd this past Sunday, January 20.

“It was such a good show. I enjoyed it and I’m going to watch the show again,” said Leila Paypompee who brought along her children.“That film really inspired me. My perspective changed on music and history”.

The aforementioned show in question is Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. The internationally award-winning film had garnered the attention of the community journalism trainer Karli Zschogner and willed her to initiate a screening here in Whitefish Bay, along with the opportunity to host a few debut performances from local musicians.

Teddy Copenace
Hanisha Singer Teddy Copenace performs opening drum songs to the audience of 30. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

Teddy Copenace of Naotkamegwanning’s Hanisha Singers elevated the room’s spirituality with his strong vocals and hide drum. Second to perform was Natalie Copenace-Kelly, 14. Utilizing her self-taught ukulele skills, she sang a powerful cover of “Beautiful Thing” by Grace Vanderwaal.

“[I] was hecka scared but I felt better afterwards,” said Natalie. “That’s why I like doing it, because I feel so much better after it.”

Following was Connor Kakeeway’s expertly played two piano performances, both of which were self-taught by the 17 year old multi-instrumentalist only three years ago he said. He played his pieces ‘The Wind Palace’ and ‘The Night Before July’. All musical performances had generated great applause from the crowd.

Connor Kakeeway - credit - Karli Zschogner
Connor Kakeeway performs one of his two original pieces ‘The Night Before July’ he says inspired by a Japanese exchange student. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

“I really enjoyed the talent of our young people. Showcasing talent and having a platform for them is definitely needed,” said Rhonda White, 7th grade teacher at Baibombeh School.

Rumble, named after the 1958 influential rock and roll anthem by Shawnee Link Wray, reveals the unrecognized Indigenous contribution to several genres of music across history. The influential lives of these people wowed viewers as their background was not commonly known trivia.

Simple folk music was soon electric guitars and thrashing whips of dyed hair. The film included the backgrounds of Jimi Hendrix, Ozzy Osbourne, Buffy Sainte-Marie, swing’s Mildred Bailey and The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo.

“The movie was really interesting. I’m a big music lover,” said guitar playing Brody Allen of Onigaming First Nation. “[I] never knew how much influence indigenous peoples had on music.”

The final set of musical performances occurred subsequently to the film opening with Natalie and then Connor with a second original piece. Closing the evening was the debut of the 19 year old, Cayne Kakeeway. Accompanied by community member Glen White on guitar and Connor on keyboard organ, Cayne rapped his own composition of self-written lyrics.

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Naotkamegwanning community member Cayne Kakeeway debuts his first original rap and mixed beats supported by brother Connor Kakeeway on organ and Glen White on bass. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

The event had been brought to the attention of renowned guitarist, Stevie Salas. Salas has worked among the more larger bands of the rock genre, most notably Hardware. He has also collaborated with music giants such as Justin Timberlake, Mick Jagger, and Rod Stewart.

Both Salas and Tim Johnson, Executive Producers of the film, agreed to answer community gathered questions following the event through Naotkamegwanning Mazina’igan. These will be answered in our next issue.

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An unexpected space of truth and reconciliation at Naotkamegwanning roundhouse

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day, Hockey Hall of Famer speaks at Indian Horse screening

By: Xavier Ranville and Wynter Taylor

It was a chilly last evening of September when Naotkamegwanning’s roundhouse was filled with more bodies than it has had in a long time – dedicated to residential school survivors.

The 40 plus community members and guests of all ages enjoyed traditional foods as wild rice and bannock before sitting down for the big screen and local George Kakeway’s similar story of residential school survival through hockey.

“Be who you are because that’s how you survive,” said Kakeway in discussion after the award-winning film adaption of the novel by the late Northwestern Ontario’s Anishinaabe Richard Wagamese.

Indian Horse, follows the fictional Anishinaabe character Saul, and his experience at residential school and his talent through hockey. The story captures many of the realities of racism and ill treatment Indigenous persons have faced.

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Kakeway as the only Indigenous boy played hockey in Kenora, later attending Assiniboia Residential School with later Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine (Photo Credit: Wynter Taylor)

The film left many people in tears touched by the story, either seeing for the first time on screen the real experiences of their loved ones or because they had no idea of this part of Canada’s history and what they went through.

Like many adults and elders like Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation’s George Kakeway, the story of Saul and his peers was very much a reality.

“As a survivor it becomes very hard to express what we went through,” he said in the community discussion.

George was taken from his home in 1951 at the age of 6.  He talked about his time at St. Mary’s Catholic Residential School in Kenora, that his hair was cut bald and punished for speaking Ojibwe. He expressed that this place, along with its sanitarium, was one of the loneliest places.

“The intent was to assimilate us, not to educate us,” he said.

Like character Saul, he was an orphan at age 10, and hockey had come available for him and he excelled, not just out of interest but a method of survival from experiences.

Wynter Taylor - George Kakeway
George Kakeway said he would use hockey and other sports to get it out of your mind and survival. (Photo Credit: Wynter Taylor)

He said hockey gave him the opportunity to chose to go to Winnipeg’s Assiniboia Residential school which let him study and also gave him time to play hockey. His focus led him to become the chief at his home at the young age of 25.

In October of last year George and his team were inducted into Manitoba’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

September 30, Orange Shirt Day is not just the last day of the month but a national movement, and proposed national holiday of sharing residential school experiences. It remains a hard day for many elders to relive and share, taking courage.

Kakeway Indian Horse Screening Poster
Indian Horse Screening Poster (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

While having heard about residential schools, Judi Cannon, a non-indigenous attendee, was overwhelmed to learn about what was going on inside and outside of the residential schools.

“I can’t even believe it would happen,” she said.  “I don’t understand how people could treat other people that way.”

Cannon, Director of Ontario SPCA for Partnerships and Community Outreach, along with her crew were invited into the community for their second year extraction of unaccounted for dogs.

Event was put on by the community’s journalism trainer and the community’s Women’s Shelter.