Two-Spirit Indigenous Artist Shawnee Kish Calls Music ‘Medicine’
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Shawnee Kish already has a lot to celebrate in June.
Singer-songwriter from Welland, Ontario. – a two-spirited Mohawk – has both Aboriginal pride and culture, which are officially celebrated this month, as well as the June 25 release of her eponymous EP.
“Yeah, the month of the party! Said Kish, 33, down the line from Edmonton where she lives with his wife, former Olympic rugby player Jen Kish, whom she married on May 15 in a ceremony chaired by the former Premier of Alberta Rachel Notley.
“And whatever the restrictions, I’m in full celebration mode. Celebrate my people, celebrate my history and my culture, and celebrate my Two Spirit pride, ”she added. “And do it through my relationship and do it through advocacy and letting these young guys, little young people know that they’re loved for who they are and through music.”
As a staunch LGBTQ advocate, Kish supports both Kids Help Phone and We Matter after enduring suicidal ideation as a teenager and finally found her way into songwriting, starting at age 14. approx. (She was a Shania Twain impersonator at age 12.)
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“When I was younger, I didn’t understand my gift and my place in the world,” said Kish, who returns to perform to an audience on August 6 at the Together Again Festival in Edmonton.
“And I struggled with things like my identity and knowing myself as an Aboriginal person, knowing things like my sexuality. Who am I? Where am I in this world? she said. “I use music as medicine because it’s such a powerful tool. With that I used to get to know my culture and go to my first powwow and go to my first sweat lodge and understand myself just gave me bigger purpose and meaning to walk the rest of my life.
Kish’s great-grandmother was taken off her Six Nations reserve for a residential school and she and her own mother lived off reserve in Welland, Ontario.
Her 63-year-old mother, who is recovering from a stroke in St. Catharines, has written a book about her great-grandmother’s experience titled Where Marie went.
With the discovery of potentially 215 bodies of students at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C., and the removal of historic statues of those linked to residential schools – such as Sir John A. MacDonald and Egerton Ryerson – Kish said that it was time for people to finally tackle the object.
“I’m really happy that conversations are opening up about our history and what Indigenous peoples have faced and are currently facing,” said Kish.
“In many situations, Indigenous learning has been taken out of schools, so most people don’t know our history. I think it really shocked a lot of people in Canada. But in our communities, this does not shock us because we live it every day. We are still in survival mode.