Cody Coyote and Mob Bounce Sound Off on Canada 150 in New Track
For countless Canadians, the country’s 150th anniversary has been cause for honour, joy and celebration. For others, Canada 150 is just another painful reminder of past wrongs and the colonialism on which our country was founded.
Fueled by this pain, Ottawa’s Cody Coyote teamed up with West Coast hip-hop duo Mob Bounce for 300 (Reconciliation). In addition to calling out the Canadian government for their treatment of Indigenous people (both past and present), they hoped to educate others about Indigenous issues and spark a conversation about reconciliation. And although the track came from a place of anger and frustration, Cody remains optimistic and hopeful for the future. Here’s what he had to say about the song, the video and reconciliation.
Tell us a bit about 300 (Reconciliation).
We created 300 (Reconciliation) to initiate an understanding of true reconciliation through educating listeners on why Canada 150 is offensive towards Indigenous people. We wrote the lyrics for this song in late June then filmed the video with Rayshen Productions and Big Vision Films. The title 300 (Reconciliation) was chosen because we want to see the Canadian government and the descendants of settlers work together in a good way with Indigenous people through understanding, love and true reconciliation for the next 150 years.
The Canada 150 celebration was definitely a controversial moment for our country – it stirred up a lot of different emotions and drew a lot of different reactions. What were you feeling while you worked on the track, and how did you channel that emotion? Did you make a conscious decision to approach the issue a certain way?
I was feeling a lot of frustration, disappointment and anger towards Canada 150 and the Canadian government. The best way I can describe it would be by telling people to do the math. If you take away 150 years from the current year (2017) you will end up with the year 1867. Within those 150 years that Canada is celebrating, the Indian Act was created (1876) by the Canadian government and is something that still affects Indigenous people negatively. The Indian Act was created to “solve the Indian problem” and to “take the Indian out of the child” (quotes from John A. Macdonald) through assimilation and residential schools. With a country that feels it’s okay to celebrate the years where its own government, along with cowards like John A. Macdonald and Duncan Campbell Scott, were actively committing cultural genocide towards Indigenous people, you can’t help but wonder what their idea of reconciliation is.
Within that 150 years, there was also what is known to be the 60s scoop. As a son of someone who was adopted in the 60s, I understand that I am an inter-generational survivor of child welfare. I also understand the inter-generational effects that come with that. I grew up with little to no cultural identity but I’m grateful that I was taught as much as my father knew. When writing my verse for this song I thought about how things were growing up, how I was told that I was different, the racism I faced, how I was lied to in my history class and how I felt when I found out about residential schools and what this government has done and continues to do to Indigenous people. I chose to channel the emotions I was feeling into something creative and expressive through a message that also delivers education. Myself and Mob Bounce came to a conscious decision that this would be an effective way for people to see the frustration Indigenous people have towards Canada 150 and how the celebration can be offensive. This release also serves as a tool to keep the conversation going around true reconciliation between settlers and Indigenous people. It is also a reminder for the Canadian government to walk their talk. Actions speak louder than words.
Ask 100 different people what reconciliation means and you’ll get 100 different answers. What does reconciliation look like to you, personally?
Personally, what true reconciliation looks like to me is for the Canadian government to not put Indigenous issues on the back burner. To acknowledge the TRC’s (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) Calls to Action. To end the poverty that exists within Indigenous communities. To help with healing programs for those facing addictions and alcoholism. To help decrease the rising suicide rates within Indigenous communities. To help out the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, boys and men. To ensure that there isn’t an over representation of Indigenous people within the Canadian prison system and child welfare system. To honour the treaties that were created between the Canadian government and Indigenous people. Lastly, to acknowledge that their Canada 150 celebration is offensive to Indigenous people and to make an effort for true reconciliation on all platforms.
If people could take one thing from the song, what would you want it to be?
I would want them to have understanding and an open heart towards Indigenous issues, rights, history and true reconciliation.
You touched on the collaboration with Mob Bounce a bit earlier. What was it like working with them?
Working with Mob Bounce has truly been such an amazing experience. Meeting like-minded individuals who also have kind hearts, strong messages, passion and drive is definitely something that is appreciated and that I cherish. I have nothing but love for the both of them and I strongly feel that we are going to continue to be good friends as well. Working on this song has sent such a strong message and truly embodies the unity that exists between Indigenous people across Turtle Island.
Tell us a bit about the video.
The video was shot under the Portage Bridge in Gatineau, Quebec. When we scouted this location we were looking for somewhere that was dark and that had a hip-hop feel to it as well. With some originality we incorporated a lot of symbolism into the video.
By having red flares we wanted to display that the colour is often associated with blood. With that we wanted to show that the bloodlines of our people still exist here in Canada despite generations of colonial violence, oppression and cultural genocide. Having two traditional dancers in the video (grass dancer Wesley King and hoop dancer Theland Kicknosway), we were also able to display that not only have our bloodlines survived but so have our traditions and culture. Displaying that we as Indigenous people have survived and will continue to survive is a powerful message that we feel should be heard. We also chose to incorporate the four elements into the video by having land, fire, wind and water represented to display that they have always been with us.
Having the crane visit us during our video shoot was something truly remarkable and we had to look up its spiritual meaning. Cranes have long been associated with balance, grace and longevity. From the way we see this visit, it was to tell us that this song will be creating balance for something wrong that has been done and we are also acknowledging our longevity as Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island. Lastly, having the Canadian flag in the video is meant to display who the overall message is directed towards, in hopes that the Canadian government will take a strong step towards true reconciliation.
The track will be on your forthcoming album, Mamawi. Tell us a bit about the album and what people can expect.
The album has been created to embody a message of togetherness, love, understanding and reconciliation. The material on the album is meant to educate listeners and to help initiate positive change. The album will also have 13 songs on it to honour the 13 moons, just like each post of a tipi does. Some other songs included on the album are Northern Lights (ft. Vision Quest) and Hit The Town (ft. White Deer & Adium).
The album will also include a lot of new songs as well. ‘Mamawi’ means ‘All Together’ in Anishnaabemowin. All together, we can educate, learn and share. All together, we can support each other. All together, we can initiate positive change. All together, we can create a better world for our future generations. We can do it and it will take time, but we have to do it. Mamawi.