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Daily Helping for June 16th, 2021 – Corey Payette – Gimikwenden Ina (Do You Remember)

A photo of Corey Payette, on stage, mid-performance, singing into a mic and banging a drum that he is holding in his right hand.

Canada is currently going through a reckoning over our historical treatment of First Nations communities. A long overdue reckoning, to be clear, but the discovery last month of the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at a former Kamloops residential school proved to be too horrific to ignore any longer. I’ve been trying to process what that number means ever since I first heard the news. The generations of trauma that have been caused by the residential school system. How there’s likely countless other mass graves like this one, each with their own equally horrifying number of lost children.

Not long after I heard about the discovery in Kamloops and the ongoing fallout, I came across this performance by Corey Payette and the Chor Leoni Men’s Choir. I then found this video of a more intimate performance of “Gimikwenden Ina (Do You Remember)” from the musical Children of God. Corey Payette is a Canadian playwright, actor, composer, and director of Oji-Cree heritage, and Children of God is a musical that he wrote about a family that is torn apart by the residential school system.

Both of the performances linked above are stunningly beautiful, but I can only imagine how powerful this song is within the greater context of the full musical. I hope I can see it in full one day, as hard as it may be to watch. Because these stories need to be told. They need to be heard. And the legacy they leave needs to be understood if we are ever going to reconcile with the past and find a better way forward.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!