Songs and Swine

So far this summer has been amazing, filled with family and celebration.  Before I start my birthday blog countdown, I want to talk about the awesomeness that was my Saturday night.
I’ve started working on an anthology of stories and been focussed on finishing up an illustrated novel that I thought would be fun to write, so this whole summer has felt like it’s been lived in so many creative realities.  On the page, on the keyboard, in notebooks, in conversations, jokes, movies, pictures, dreams, words and letters.
On account of this, I find myself reading and writing more and more every day, but this past Saturday as much as I craved a day of writing - I couldn’t bring myself to sit down for longer than five minutes. I absolutely could not stay still.  And so I didn’t. I moved around and did chores and errands.  Went and picked up my Swinefest ticket.

Now, if I thought I had been inspired before Swinefest, I don’t know what to call the place I am now.  Nirvana?  Faerie?

I started this blog because I wanted to keep a record of all of the cool things that are going on in the community, things that stood out and amazed me. And of course - there have been so many more than I have been able to record.  They make up pages and pages of entry because our community is incredibly cool.

That’s not to say that we don’t have our hills and valleys – we do.

But back to Swinefest.  It was a good thing I stayed on the go all day. If I had stopped I might not have ended up there at all.  A little fact about me - I have a bit of a tendency to make plans and then decide I feel like staying in to read.  In fact over the last year I have bought tickets for the Queens of the Stone Age, The Kills and Deadmau5 and still not made it to an actual show.  All bands I would have loved to see…I just didn’t.

My ticket stub :) 

So physically being at Swinefest for me was an exciting change of pace and pattern.  When I think of the things that I love about music, concerts and community, it was one of the absolute best experiences I’ve had of each.

Our people care about so many things. They have and are continuing to learn more about their specific areas of interest whether it’s art, the environment, our languages and culture, history or sports.  It may be they care about helping young people, older people, family and friends.  It’s as if there’s these lights that are shining around as people nurture the different things they are passionate about.  And it’s great when collaboration brings these elements together, like one big shining beacon.
The Breaking Wind

This was ultimately what Swinefest reminded me of - collaboration brought to radiant life.  Creative, splendid, outrageously cool, caring and fun.   I only made it to see the tail end of the Healers, but I did hear the entire set of the Breaking Wind and two-time Juno Award winner Derek Miller (who hosts Swinefest along with his family as a way to give back to the community). 

He's been nominated for an award - you can vote here:

Derek has a real talent of bringing people together through his performance and there’s something so familiar about his songs - they drift but they linger too. 
I loved when others joined him on stage at the end of the night to sing and play guitar with his band.  It was amazing seeing artists come together on stage, and be happy to work together and celebrating one another’s talents and gifts.  Making music for the enjoyment of everyone there and for our community.
I deeply enjoyed the music of all the bands that I heard – but I’d be lying if I said it was just the music that made the night. The whole event was wholly inspiring – even the food.  I ate the perch dinner and the pulled pork sandwich and it was definitely the best meal of the weekend.  

My birthday is coming up and I am already finding myself reflecting about how grateful I am for the experiences I’ve had this year and every day I get to be here and be indigenous and part of a great community.

Of course, I’m also reflecting on politics and the policy issues that we face – like privatization and a disregard for environmental accountability that is simply unacceptable.  I hope our politicians and organizations that advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples speak out vigorously about this.   But I believe that supporting one another within our communities is ultimately just as important as any other advocacy effort – it’s the very sense of community and collective that an initiative like privatization seems determined to threaten.

So at events like Swinefest, when it’s clear that we see ourselves as more than individuals and there’s a lot of light in our community it fills me up with all kinds of hope, inspiration, and happiness all over again.   I am really looking forward to constructing a birthday blog, so until then, I hope that everyone’s summer is drawing to a fabulous close.  Because guess what begins for most children on my birthday??  That’s right...

Derek Miller and band with guests Crystal MacDonald and Carter Bomberry 
SCHOOL!!!!!!! J