Digging towards the light

2010 Juno award and 4 time Canadian Aboriginal Music Award winners the Digging Roots have released their new album “For the Light.” The Digging Roots are husband and wife duo Raven Kanatakta & Shoshona Kish with their son Skye Polson, Leonardo Valvassori, Paul Brennan, and up and coming singer Jadea Kelly and Tiffany Moses. The Two Row Times did an interview with Raven Kanatkta on the day of the album release.

Why is the album titled “For the Light”?

Before Idle No More started we did a song with Pura Fe. It was a bit of a militant song and we wanted to put it out there. When Idle No More began we started writing more militant songs but then we thought we need to write some love songs to keep the balance. There’s a lot of misrepresentation in the mainstream conservative media of what Idle No More is. We just really felt that things were being misrepresented and that there was some incidents happening across the country, women were getting beaten up, men were getting beaten up and things like that.

The Idle No More movement has to do with speaking our truth and coming together as a collective for the betterment of the land; for the betterment of people. It was done in a kind way with a round dance, friendship dance and it was done in all this kindness but the mainstream media misrepresented it.

We felt we should put the militant songs aside for a second and make a whole album of love, and that’s what it turned into, and so we called it For the Light. We were also touring Norway in the dead of winter and we were way up north at Kaotokeino. It was complete darkness and we were there for almost a month and in this complete darkness we started going a little bit batty. After the first week there was light starting to come back each day getting longer by 20 minutes. We were writing the title track “For the Light” at that time.

The album is bringing back the light into us; it’s bringing back the light into the people. It brings back that light that exists but sometimes we forget about it but we have to remind each other that we have to look at the better sides of who we are so we can put that forward to stand together united. It’s good we have differences between different races and cultures but it also good we celebrate who we are and the best way to do that is from your heart and a good mind.

From the time when you performed at the Kanohnstaton concert in Six Nations have you noticed any change?

Every ten years there’s another generation that wants to stoke that fire. When you stoke that fire it heats up that much more and I think that’s really good. I think this country is way too conservative. People are too docile. If something happens like an omnibus bill people are too comfortable in their homes, they don’t want to do anything about it. When I toured Paris and they raised the taxes by 2%, everyone was protesting in the street. I think because this country is so big that segregation is there and I think that its good first nations people are stoking it up.

In 1990 we went through that whole thing in Kanesatake and people had to speak up there. Even myself and my family had shotguns and automatics pointed at our heads. I was at a barrier and they surrounded us, put these guns to our heads and my dad was trying to calm them down saying the real issue here is about bulldozing a graveyard for a 9 hole golf course. My family is my family and we are standing up for that but you are going to have to take the guns away from us. You can’t have guns pointed at a 5-year-old kid. I think that in big movements and when things like that happen its growing pains that we have to go through. This is why it’s so important that we must do things with respect and love and have that kindness at all times as much as possible.

What is Shoshona saying in the song “For the light” and what language?

Anishnaabemowin language (Ojibway) What she is essentially saying is push, push for the light to bring back that light and bring back that kindness to ourselves. It’s pushing past those dark times within our selves to get back that light. Sometimes we go through ceremonies like that to centre ourselves opening up that curtain to let it back in.

For more about Digging Roots go to www.diggingrootsmusic.com and www.facebook.com/DiggingRoots

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