As I was driving to work my favourite Bob Marley song came on the radio. I turned up the volume and began to mouth the words…
“Buffalo soldier, dreadlock Rasta. There was a buffalo soldier, in the heart of America…”
…And then Wayne Lavallee’s raspy soulful voice came to mind.
Back in the month of June my friend and I went to an Indigenous Day Festival in Toronto to continue with the commemoration of National Aboriginal Day*. It was a good vibes type of day (minus the cost of parking!). The weather was great, the dancers and drummers in the powwow were mesmerizing, and the conversations with the vendors were friendly and informative. In the evening portion of the festival there were several First Nations and Metis singers from across Canada who performed, including famous country singer Crystal Shawanda (I’m not a country music fan but her vocals were amazing!). One of the performers that stood out to me was Wayne Lavallee because of his cover song of Buffalo Soldier. To be honest, until that point when he was introducing the cover song I was not really engaged. My ears perked up when he explained how the song’s message of being displaced/ not knowing your true identity because of colonialism is one that he and other Indigenous people could identify with. At that moment I remember shouting “ME TOO!” Shouting inside my head that is… 😛
Even though Lavallee didn’t perform the song in a reggae style his music and voice still moved me emotionally.
Ever since I started to educate myself about the history of colonialism in Canada I realized that there are striking similarities between my people (Jamaicans) and many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people…
- Both colonized by the British
- Both were Christianized by the British (although some revolted)
- Both experienced loss of mother tongue (very few languages survived)
- Both experienced being taken from our traditional lands/families/communities
- Both participated in revolts against assimilation
These are just a few similarities that I have connected and I look forward to uncovering more!
Thank you for reading and watching,
*As of next year it will be called National Indigenous Peoples Day