Looking ahead to the fall election, many people are speculating on what might happen and are looking at many different angles to try to figure out what the end results might be. The 2015 election was a unique one that saw some different things happen, that lead to a different voter coalition that elected this Liberal government.
Different media outlets have been looking at the components of that coalition, to check in, to see how they are feeling about the Trudeau Liberals and what that might say about their re-election chances. CBC took their turn at this last week, releasing the results of extensive polling on the Indigenous electorate, seeing how they are feeling after four years of “Real Change”. Those results said a lot, much of which wasn’t shocking to me. But polls only say so much, and give only part of the picture.
There are other indicators out there that can tell us about the mood of an electorate or the people in general. For me, one of those things is the arts. Music and art can be a telling sign of the mood of the people at any given time and we can point to so many examples throughout history of art being used to express the feelings of the time. So today there was something that jumped out that me from the artistic sector, that spoke volumes and all started with one comment in the House of Commons from September 25, 2018. Remember this?
Yes folks, this episode is one that I’ll never forget, especially given that I worked for Romeo Saganash for years and knew his ways very well. Romeo is a soft spoken man, but when he swears, when he speaks strongly like that, you feel the urgency behind it. It spoke much louder than a four-letter curse word and spoke to the frustrations of many in the Indigenous community. And in the days after that, we saw memes and video adaptations of that statement all over the place, people thanking Saganash for what he said and agreeing with his sentiment.
Now we are in July, more than nine months since those words were uttered. You would think that maybe the feeling and sentiment that those words expressed may have subsided or lessened a bit. But today came a new release from one of Canada’s biggest music groups, “A Tribe Called Red”, a group with it’s fingers firmly on the pulse of the Indigenous community in Canada. They released a new song called “The OG”, and if you listen, you’ll hear something familiar:
And in case you were doubting what A Tribe Called Red might have meant by including that moment in their song, they made it crystal clear in the press release that went out today about it:
“It would be impossible to overstate the impact that Romeo Saganash’s words had on the Indigenous world and on us personally,” the group’s Bear Witness said in a press release. “We feel that the stand he took that day in parliament needs to be remembered, memorialized and commemorated. This is a celebration of that moment. Romeo, the Halluci Nation salutes you.”https://exclaim.ca/music/article/a_tribe_called_red_return_with_the_og_plot_canadian_tour
Remembered, memorialized and commemorated. Reflect on that for a second. How many statements made in the House of Commons in this Parliament, let alone in this decade, have moved people to feel the need to remember, memorialize and commemorate them? I can’t think of any off the top of my head, especially anything that happened in Question Period. That speaks to the power of that moment, how it’s moved people and how it hasn’t been forgotten, not by a longshot.
And if I were the Liberal Party of Canada, this would worry me deeply. Yes this confirms what some of the polling that CBC put out stated, but I would argue that this piece of artistic expression shows the strength and depth of emotion behind that sentiment. Those words will be downloaded thousands of times over the summer and people will hear them over and over again, being reminded of the Liberals failures regarding the rights of Indigenous peoples. These are the kinds of artistic expressions that motivate people and push them to act.
We will see if this development speaks just as loudly as A Tribe Called Red’s strong beats but if anything, it’s not a good sign for the government going into the election. Will it mean more beyond that, we will see. But when those who have their fingers on the pulse of the people speak, I always make sure to listen and pay attention to what they say.