By Lindsay Monture
OHSWEKEN — Last week Six Nations attracted a mix of local and world-class talent coming together to bring entertainment, awareness and empowerment to the community.
The 8th annual Concert For A Cure event brought big names such as A Tribe Called Red (who also kicked off their 2015 Rez Tour), Digging Roots and David Wilcox to perform for free over 3 days.
“Being an artist for over 20 years, touring all these festivals around us, I was just always wondering why we didn’t have one to showcase ourselves at home,” C4AC Artistic Director and performer Jace Martin explained, “Then we said ‘well let’s do it for a cause.’ The thing that was closest to us was cancer. Even though there is no cure for cancer, the recommend preventative measures is the only cure so that’s why we’re doing it to raise awareness.”
Thursday opening night at the Community Hall started off with a bang as Lacey Hill, Chllly and Jessie Reyez opened for A Tribe Called Red. It was the first time Six Nations’ own Bear Witness and Tim “2oolman” Hill were able to bring their infamous electric powwow beats to their home community.
Hill expressed his appreciation for being able to play at home. “This was the show I was looking forward to since the moment I joined the Tribe. That was my favourite show of all time because I got to come and bring it home and I wanted everyone to know that they matter to me. I care about this place a lot.”
Coinciding with C4AC was Thru The Red Door’s first Youth Empowerment Summit and creative industries workshops facilitated by the Remix Project – a collective of multi-media producers based out of Toronto. Six Nations youths participated in a video and photography workshop by videographer Brian Gregory and photographer Michelle Hazell, and an interactive session in songwriting and music engineering with Jessie Reyez.
The day ended with a special live-stream broadcast of the Youth Empowerment Summit, hosted by Ryan McMahon featuring A Tribe Called Red. The Tribe shared many stories and experiences on their rise to fame. When asked what the message they are trying to get across with the Rez Tour, Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau replied, “It’s really important for Indigenous youth to see people in the mainstream culture like them. I’m hoping that we get to be that visual reference for kids growing up that we never had.”
Bear Witness adds, “Anything is possible. Any of us can do this. When you’re not given those opportunities, you can create those opportunities for yourself.”
Concert for A Cure continued Friday evening with more great performances by Logan Staats, as well as Rob Lamothe opening for JUNO award-winners Digging Roots.
Saturday ended the 3 day music festival with special guest host, YouTuber Nicole Arbour introducing acts James Favron, Innersha, AK Mcleod Blues Band, Soul Sistas & The Junction, The Zilis, Robbie Antone Blues Band, Khamel-Eon ft. Errol Starr Francis, Leah Belle, and Jace Martin and the Pace. The festival concluded with a special intro with the Redrum First Nations MC for Canadian rock legend David Wilcox.
“Pretty much every indigenous band that you can name on Six Nations played on our stage at one point or another. It makes me feel so proud,” Martin said of the event, “We’ve had all the mainstream headliners and it’s a matter of bringing these guys in to get the experience with the emerging guys. That’s the opportunity that we get to provide and it’s pretty exciting.”
“It is so important for our community to come together in unity and celebrate, support and encourage one another’s talents to build one another up and feel involved in something larger than ourselves,” concert-goer Sara Doolittle shares, “My happiness overwhelms seeing others so happy, unable to stop themselves from letting the music take over!”
Concert for a cure’s sponsors this year includes the Six Nations Community Youth Outreach, Heritage Canada, Celebrate Ontario, Two Row Times, Six Nations Council, Union Gas, and the Dreamcatcher Fund.
The Youth Empowerment Summit was presented by Thru The Red Door with partners McMaster University, Two Row Times, The Remix Project, RM Comedy, Woodland Cultural Centre and Six Nations Council.