Indigenous Musicians Find Their Way in NB and beyond

On July 1st, 2020, artsnb launched a music video based on the song “Find Your Way”, which was viewed online more than 30,000 times in less than a month. The song and video have generated quite a buzz about Indigenous music in New Brunswick, and showcase the talent of several artists, musicians and filmmakers of the province. Here is a brief history of how the song came to life and how it has impacted the career of several of its creators.

The music video, produced with the help of the NB Film Coop, is the culmination of a series of workshops funded by the Department of Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour, and led by artsnb with the collaboration of several industry partners. Back in 2018, Indigenous musicians gathered in Fredericton to write and record songs with Musique Nomade’s Simon Walls and Travis Mercredi. This initiative led to the production of a full album of original material, including “Find Your Way.” The songs, some contemporary, others more traditional, were developed through a collaborative process involving all workshop participants.

The album, entitled “All My People,” was released [On November 23rd, 2018] and is available on CD and on many popular online music platforms, including Spotify, iTunes and SoundCloud. The creative process and the album release caught the attention of the national media, as witnessed by a number of CBC articles and interviews with Corrina Merasty, artsnb’s Indigenous Outreach Officer, who was the project lead.

Through their contacts, the industry partners who contributed to the creative workshops also opened international doors for several Indigenous participants, allowing Hubert Francis and the late Gary Sappier to perform live in French Guyana, and Tee Cloud in Morocco, and to bring elements of Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq cultures to those countries.

“My first time collaborating with a group of talented people was an awesome experience, the song was composed in a very short time! Thank you, crew! Thank you artsnb for the opportunity!”  – Hubert Francis, participant and member of the artsnb Circle of Elders.

The release of “All My People” has also helped further the professional career of Matt Comeau, one of the main contributors to the project. Matt performed “Find Your Way” with Soleil Launière in August 2019 during the First People’s Festival in Montreal. 

“The artsnb workshops were a major catalyst for stepping into the music industry, the skills and information I learnt were invaluable in navigating the professional aspects of songwriting and recording. I learnt the value in collaborating with other artists and working with the team at artsnb really helped me take my career to the next level.” -Musician, Matt Comeau

Judie Acquin-Miksovsky, member of the artsnb Circle of Elders, shares her experience as a participant of the workshop series: “The indigenous songwriter workshop that I attended through artsnb was skillfully facilitated with professional producers. It was an eye-opening experience to come together with talent from wabanaki territory. I was inspired to continue writing on my own following the workshop in hopes to someday come together again. The success of the single “Find Your Way” is a story about resilience. A manifestation of generational strength and healing. I am so very proud that people across these lands feel the same inspiration that I do. Indigenous musicians/artists have strong stories to tell and with the right assistance, our words can travel.”

Buoyed by these exciting outcomes, artsnb recently partnered with the Canada Council for the Arts and the NB Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture on a two-year pilot project. As Joss Richer, Executive Director of artsnb, explains, “the aim of this joint initiative is to better inform the Indigenous artists and community leaders of New Brunswick about the programs and funding opportunities available at the provincial and federal levels, and to help artists increase their capacity to create, perform and make their mark here and abroad.” 

Are you an Indigenous artist looking for support for a creative project? 

Indigenous artist wanting to know more about funding opportunities and programs offered by artsnb, the Canada Council for the Arts, the NB Department of Tourism, Heritage & Culture and other funders, or wishing to gain valuable business, marketing and artistic skills to further their career, can reach out to Corrina Merasty, artsnb’s Indigenous Outreach Officer at Corrina (Wapisiw, meaning White Swan) has made it her personal mission to help Indigenous artists reach their full potential!