SaskMusic hosting virtual concert to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day

SaskMusic's National Indigenous People's Day concert features 23 musicians across the province. Each is performing one song. (SaskMusic/Facebook)

SaskMusic is celebrating Indigenous artists across the province through a virtual concert this Saturday.

The following day, June 21, marks National Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s held on the same day as the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and is particularly symbolic to First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.

According to Brittney MacFarlane, SaskMusic program and education coordinator, the virtual show will feature 23 musicians.

While the opportunity was directed to self-identifying Indigenous people, MacFarlane said there’s a wide array of participants—and she hopes all of them will feel celebrated.

“We just want to give a platform to celebrate the Indigenous people. They’re creating such wonderful music, and again, they’re represented all across our province,” she said.

“We’ve got solo artists, we’ve got bands, we’ve got duos, we’ve got older folks and younger folks and siblings.”

It may not be the ideal way of performing, but MacFarlane said the virtual format allows all Saskatchewan artists, no matter where they live, to participate.

She said she’s also adding in “virtual tip jars” and links to how the public can support each of the performers.

One of the participating musicians is Prince Albert Métis fiddle player Donny Parenteau. It feels great to continue to get his music out there, he said, but it also feels different.

“When you’re a musician, you fight for what you have, really try to push for what you have. You keep what you have alive and you get very creative in how to do it,” he said about artists’ resilience throughout COVID-19.

“Plan A didn’t work, let’s try plan B. Plan B don’t work, let’s try plan C. We never stop—we can’t.”

Parenteau explained that he, among many others, went to having zero income overnight when the province entered a lockdown back in March.

Parenteau has been teaching music classes online since then, even to a student from Illinois in the United States. He plans to continue teaching virtually even when he’s allowed to have students come to his home again.

“The number one thing I want everybody to know out there (is) please do not forget your live music once this is done because if you do not support live music or entertainers, live music will die,” he emphasized.

The message he hopes to spread this Indigenous Peoples Day is simple: “Be proud of who you are.”

“We are all one, all one. We all bleed the same, so there’s really no difference in anybody,” said Parenteau.

MacFarlane said ever since SaskMusic put out a call for video submissions, the concert has been popular across its social media channels. The organization wasn’t entirely sure what do for this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations because it normally hosts in-person events in collaboration with other groups.

The Foundation Assistance Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR) is supporting this year’s event, allowing the participating artists to receive an honorarium.

“I just hope (people are) proud to see this talent is coming out of their own province. I think it’s easy to see the Jess Moskalukes, the Sheepdogs, the folks coming from Saskatchewan that are bigger names but we have such an incredibly talented array of artists from all across the province,” added MacFarlane.

The National Indigenous Peoples Day concert will be broadcasted on SaskMusic’s Facebook page and YouTube channel at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Another local musician, LJ Tyson, is hosting alongside Dakota Ray Hebert.

Other performers include Krystle Pederson, Roland Corrigal, Ron Desjardins, Mr. Awesome, Randy Woods Band, Valerie Raye and The North Sound.