Editor's Note

I once attended Drummers in Exile at Trinity Bellwoods Park with Ahmer Khan, dear friend and djembe drummer. He told me, as we walked away from the pit, that the sounds of the drums would carry on. He says the spirits will remain because only they can hear the percussion reverberating in silence, at times, for hours after the human presence departs. This has forever changed my experience with percussion. I imagine our ancestors dancing, light in spirit, together in the memory of our presence. 


Mezzo soprano Marion Newman was joined by baritone Jonathon Adams and stage director Yvette Nolan to stake an Indigenous claim on Western Classical music. It was the most beautiful reclamation of space my body has ever encountered. At that moment, Wreckonciliation reversed the process of forced-assimilation and erasure of Indigenous practices in a way that only art allowed.  


At first, her operatic pitch carried me to the anticipated familiarity of Western Classical. My eyes were closed when my ears picked up the misplaced beat of a natural frame drum. In moments that followed, her voice transitioned from opera to a traditional Indigenous songscape. I opened my eyes, breath taken, my mind trying to locate myself in that shift. 


I didn’t see any ceremony, regalia, dance. Such privilege is usually outside the city, for me, in the Syilx Okanagan territory where I grew in closer proximities to Indigenous ways of being. While she drummed on, my mind went there, to British Columbia and my childhood. 


My body was still at the Museum of Contemporary Art.


This act of resistance took claim of that space and all of our spirits within it. A truthful artistic intervention, it continued to vibrate in my body once I returned home. What a profound moment to experience the two, opera and traditional song in unison, together and yet so viscerally a part. 


And as days went by, it felt like my spirit kept pulsing to that drum. I’d close my eyes and feel the presence of other beings, silently and together. It is beginning to feel more peaceful to be in human solitude with such invisible intimacies than in the company of others. It allows me to travel inward where this unseen universe transcends.


The water that flows through our veins first flowed through the veins of our parents and their parents before them. It flowed through the veins of each ancestor that gave life. This water has flowed since the start of time itself. To move through a world requiring visibility erases the sacred invisibles that are within each of us. Eternally curious, my mind searched for truths that my body once imprisoned, disallowing such discovery. These inner truths have begun to illuminate the journey of the dark world outside.