I am at the end of third day of the Walking the Boundaries, Bridging the Gap Community Music conference here in Waterloo, Ontario. 140 people sharing research, case studies, playing and listening in the context of the only CM masters and undergrad courses in Canada.
This is also the first international CM conference in North America. The conversations have been very resonant of all the themes we talk about in the UK.
Yesterday I presented a paper on my role as a composer in the community and the musical processes that I have developed. I was in a group of three papers that included one by a Music Therapist looking at the intersection of her work and the principles South Side of Chicago. It may sound a mad mix but it was fascinating.
The start of the conference booklet states
“We acknowledge that we are on the Haldimand Tract, traditional territory of the Neutral, Haudenosaunee, and Anishnaabe peoples. We are grateful to the land which provides us the opportunity to learn, grow and work toward greater understanding and knowledge. We also acknowledge the ongoing oppression and struggles for justice that are facing Indigenous peoples and communities.”
This third day has been all about the role that music can play in bringing cultures together and adddressing the issues Indigenous peoples face here in Canada and in Australia. It has been a very powerful day and shows the great respect that Lee Willingham and his team here have for the Indigenous peoples.
The day started with a Smudging and then a Haudensaunee Thanksgiving from orator, Darren Thomas. Brydie Bartleet then shared her great work with the First Peoples communities in Australia – sharing all the issues and talking about how ‘reconciliation is the responsibility of us all’ and how ‘from little things big things can grow’. The slow processes that start with respect and deep listening. They both stated that the Indigenous and First Peoples communities of their respective countries are at the top of indices for diabetes, unemployment, domestic violence, suicide etc etc etc
I am now sitting in a session where Glenn Marais is telling us about working with young people in an Indigenous community where there is 95% unemployment and where young peoples suicides were regular. He share songs, chants and poems and tells us that over 10 years they have returned to this community the suicide rate disappeared entirely, except the ONE YEAR they didn’t return and a young person committed suicide. The songwriting and community healing that this connected with was so respectful. He is visibly distressed by the sense that his non-return could have something to do with the death. He finishes with this slide
“We do not inherit the earth from our children, we borrow it from our children”
I learn so much from what I hear and the people I meet at these conferences.. they seem to be a feature of my life and currently I am planning the next major event - the Community Music Activity Seminar is Tbilisi in 2018.
Come and join us there to sing and talk and listen some more!