Rhythm Of The People: The Music In One’s Community Can Heal During Difficult Times

Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand Community

A Message from Lixar:

Shelley Fraser, Director, Communications and Community Engagement, Lixar IT

Shelley Fraser Director, Communications and Community Engagement Lixar IT

Music has played such an essential role during the Pandemic. It has been there for every emotion: happy, sad, reflective, hopeful, up, even or down. It has helped us get off the couch and dance or simply been a reliable companion when we needed a friend in the room. We can’t undervalue music and its worth, hope and healing during this time. To pay tribute, we’ve commissioned music industry experts and artists from across the country to write an article on why music is important, especially now. Music is part of our collective resiliency, our culture and our Canadian Spirit. Thank you for taking the time to pause and read the articles and reflect on how and why music is important to you and to our community.

Rhythm Of The People: The Music In One’s Community Can Heal During Difficult Times

Music article by Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand

We are living in a time where many of us are faced with uncertainties and forced into coping with a number of changes and fears of the future. We see the impacts of these changes in Alberta’s largest meat delivery and packing plant, Cargill Inc., announcing its closer due to an unsafe number of positive cases of Covid-19. We can measure the severity of the pandemic in Alberta’s economic downturn based on a provincial decline in Canada’s real GDP at 5.0 per cent and the closures of non-essential markets critical to our economic growth throughout the year. With Covid-19 mentioned everywhere on social media and in every news broadcast, our fears of the future increase at a rapid pace that we were not prepared to keep up with.

As things change so rapidly for the safety of everyone around us, we are asked to adapt and move forward without pausing to address the impacts these changes will have on our mental health. For many, this leaves us with questions of how and when we will get past these current struggles that we’re internalizing and has us fearing what is outside our front door.

Lately, it has been a good individual practice to use music as a form of therapy as we examine and experience a life in social isolation and distancing.

This is a practice that was active in my own life throughout my experiences living on a First Nations community, and a practice I continue today living in an urban environment. Music is healing and offers us the energy and strength to face this new way of living that can be difficult and challenging from day to day. For my community, Siksika First Nation, music has been one of our greatest teachers and a spiritual guide to how we interact in our social settings, including our highest ceremonial practices and transferring knowledge and rites that help build our community relationships and spiritual practices. For those of us that work in music, we believe that it can lead us on our journey of healing in the time of Covid-19. Online programs that have been launched by Alberta and Canadian based organizations are attesting to the power of music.

In a time, such as now, we can look to Indigenous communities who are coming together to empower and spread wellness through music. Initiatives such as Home Fire Live, a nation-wide online gathering guided by Indigenous-led organizations in Canada, such as Mohkinstsís-based (Calgary, AB) Indigenous Resilience in Music, and including Indigenous Music West, International Indigenous Music Summit, and Talking Stick. This program will feature webinar discussions with Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians on how we can heal through the power of music and promote wellness in the music community. Other initiatives led by Calgary based Indigenous Resilience in Music include the Lodge Session Series that features virtual online performances by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, and their newly relaunched virtual online youth and music festival program named Rhythm of the People.

Other Calgary-based virtual programs that need our attention during this time is the Virtual Pow Wow Festival presented by Drum Beat Productions that brings together Indigenous and non- Indigenous DJs across genres. Coupled with these programs are new music releases by artists such as Amiskwaciy-based (Edmonton, AB) nêhiyawak on their sophomore release nîpiy and recently released debut LP Survival from the ever-elegant musical work of Wares (Edmonton, AB).

Music offers us a space to cope with these current events. Music, if we allow it, can be the perfect medicine to our day while we wait out a pandemic and let healing and growth continue.

Wares Photo by Josh Bookhalter

Wares by Josh Bookhalter

Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand is a writer and event producer in Calgary, Alberta.