Jeremy Dutcher’s video honours the resistance of the Mi’kmaq

Written by Sophie M. Lavoie on February 10, 2018

Tobique native Jeremy Dutcher has released a music video for The Honour Song that prominently features the 2013 resistance to shale gas exploration of the Mi’kmaq.

Dutcher is one of the provinces’ most talented up-and-coming musicians. Now based in Toronto, Dutcher released the first video from his upcoming album entitled Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa’ (Our Maliseet Songs).

The Honour Song is one of the most recognized songs of the Mi’kmaw repertoire. Dutcher’s beautiful, opera-trained lyrical voice reaches for the highest notes of the song while innovatively reworking the song into an almost plaintive anthem. Land defenders singing the original song at the encampment that blocked SWN’s shale gas equipment on Highway 11 near Rexton replace Dutcher’s version near the end of the video.

The music video is entirely edited from compiled cellphilm and digital video footage of the struggle against SWN. Including the iconic image taken by APTN reporter Ossie Michelin of Amanda Polchies kneeling in front of the RCMP with her eagle feather, the video also features Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock declaring the sovereignty of his peoples over the land and eviction of SWN.

The collected footage provides a very moving context for listening to this beautiful song whose lyrics translate loosely to:

Let us greatly respect our nativeness
My people let us gather
Let us greatly respect our Aboriginal roots
My people let us help one and other
Let us help one and other according to the Creator’s intention for putting us on this planet.

Nicknamed “the Indigenous Pavarotti” by some of his people, Dutcher was one of the stars at a recent pan-Canadian tour with the New Constellations during which he moved audiences across the country. Dutcher’s performance in this ensemble show featured him playing the piano and singing in a reworking of the wax cylinder recordings of his Wolastoqey ancestors found in the National archives.

Dutcher is at the forefront of a group of artists, musicians, and writers attempting to preserve the endangered Wolastoq language and, in particular, to widen the considerations about what is considered “Canadian” music.

The song and its accompanying video firmly root the Indigenous voice and tradition in the resistance to the deterioration, colonization and destruction of Indigenous culture.

Sophie M. Lavoie writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op. 

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