Friday, July 07, 2006

Six Nations Fundraiser

In the comments of my post announcing the event, I promised Annamarie of verbena-19 that I would do a quick post on the "6N" benefit concert in Hamilton for the Six Nations land reclamation in Caledonia.

I had dinner with a couple of friends I hadn't seen much of in awhile so I ended up getting there a little late and missed the first few acts. As well, as much as I would've liked to have stayed and closed the place down, I had an hour drive before I could sleep, so I didn't see the last couple either. Nonetheless, I was there for all or part of four acts.

The absolute highlite of the evening, other than getting to visit with yet more people I hadn't seen in ages -- including Beatrice and Randy of Radio Free School, who were involved in organizing the event -- was Harrison Kennedy. I can't believe I lived in Hamilton for ten years and never once heard him play. He had flown back from Paris sometime within the last 24 hours but decided to come out anyway and play a few songs despite the jet-lag. The words spoken by -- activist? leader? I suspect he would object to both terms, though I know both are applicable in certain senses -- in the urban Aboriginal community in Hamilton Al Loft both before and after Kennedy were also pretty powerful. Loft and Kennedy grew up in the same neighbourhood in Hamilton many years ago, and the latter was close friends with the former's older brother, and was a frequent visitor to Six Nations. As well, a couple of different people from Six Nations other than Loft spoke about the struggle.

The turnout was good. Don't know yet how much the event raised for the reclamation effort but hopefully if Randy happens by he can leave a ballpark figure in the comments section. Given the nature of the event -- a fundraiser -- this is not surprsing, and it probably is also a reflection of the side of things I've had a chance to be involved in so far in my relatively new home, but the crowd was also far more middle class than at any socal justice type thing I've been to yet in Sudbury. Though I was surprised I didn't see more faces that were familiar to me from my two years working in the agency sector in Hamilton.

And the final thing that is worth noting is the moments of uncomfortable reflection that I experienced as a couple of the speakers from Six Nations were doing their thing -- not because of disagreeing with anything they were saying, but because I was feeling particularly conscious of the colonial grounding in which all of this was and is happening. The fundraiser was great and it was definitely much better that it happen than it not happen, because the reclamation effort needs every bit of money it can get. But there is something messed up in a colonial kind of way about a nation struggling for the land and self-determination to which it is entitled having to be thankful to some of us who have relative privilege in part because of our status as settlers on their land for throwing a few frivolous out-for-fun dollars back in their direction and then us getting an "ooooh, we're the good ones, aren't we Martha? Yes we are Terrence" kind of feel from it. Which is a bit cynical and it's good we were all there and more people should have been there, but I hope lots of the (white) people who were there left feeling less comfortable rather than more comfortable with how the world works and what our place is in it.

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