It doesn’t get more Canadian than this: a great Canadian band (the Tragically Hip) fronted by the poet of the Canadian soul (Gord Downie), a great Canadian author (Joseph Boyden) and the land (James Bay Cree territory) and the people (William Tozer, who was a model for the character of the bush pilot Will Bird in Joseph’s Giller winning novel Through Black Spruce) who inspire him. But then it does.
READ JOSEPH AND AMANDA BOYDEN’S REPORT FROM THE GREAT MOON GATHERING AND THE REFLECTIONS OF SOME OF ITS PARTICIPANTS:
I’m standing backstage at the concert at the Great Moon Gathering, beside a woman with a black tee shirt on that says SECURITY in big, white letters. The Tragically Hip have just sung a song they’ve never performed before and the crowd is cheering wildly. Except for this woman. It’s not that she’s not cheering exactly; she’s doing goosecalls, high, warbly and piercing. Which stops the action, gets a big grin from Gord, and makes everyone cheer again. And just when you think it can’t get better than this—hanging with the Mushkegowuk Cree, including Grand Chief Stan Louttit, and the man who organized all this, Edmund Metatawabin, Joseph, his stellar wife Amanda, William Tozer, Gord Downie and the rest of the band who are marvelous human beings, too—the woman in the SECURITY tee shirt asks if I want to see the movie she made on an iPhone. Not unless you tell me your name, I say.
And the next morning, I see the film. It’s called “Eulogy from the White House” about a young Cree woman discovering her true roots. It’s great. An epic in sixteen minutes, written and produced by the goose-caller, Phoebe R. Sutherland. Remember that name.
Shelagh Rogers is the host of CBC Radio One’s The Next Chapter.