Gordon Downie

Gordon Downie, a Canadian famous singer, songwriter, and activist says, “Music brings people together. So, my function in anything I do is to help bring people closer in” (Maclean’s, 2017). He wrote many songs that the way he loves Canada, and encourage people especially Canadians to unite. Goodnight Attawapiskat is one of his many famous songs that is about Indigenous people who live around Attawapiskat in the northern part of Ontario.
Goodnight Attawapiskat is “politically charged song” (Hipmuseum, n.d.), and “is a fundraising effort for the Native reserve of Attawapiskat in the far north.” There was a great outrage in Canada several years ago because the government has not provided funding for the Indigenous peoples, among the consequences are living without a heated home and the necessities to live. The song is purposefully written for Indigenous people’s rights (Emerald, 2012). “Hello! Good evening folks we are the Silver Poets/ Here in our thousand-mile suits”, “Downie explained that ‘the silver poets’ are the politicians and well-wishers, who like musicians, roll into town with their silver tongues and roll out just as quickly end route to somewhere else” (Hipmuseum, n.d.). The “diamond dazzling”, Downie refers to the Victor Diamond Mine near, Attawapiskat which opened in 2006. The mine is constructed by the Aboriginal people, but those people from that area do not benefit from the mine (Beljaars, 2015). “You’re on your way” is likely a prediction that means your good fortune is very near and on its way. In the last stanza, Downie repeats the word “Attawapiskat” again and again; it seems Downie assures the Indigenous people with hope and makes them strong emotionally or imprint the name in the minds of Canadians who aren’t paying attention to the problems in this nation.
Attawapiskat is a significant city of Indigenous people in Canada which means “people of the parting of the rocks” located at the mouth of Attawapiskat river and James Bay in northern Ontario. People were lived around James Bay before the pyramids of Egypt were built. In 1867, the federal government of Canada took control over the Native Peoples and their lands, which began a 150-year period of genocide (Hipmuseum, n.d.). The suicide rate among Aboriginals is as high as twice the national rate. Among women, the rate of suicide for Aboriginal is three times the national rate (Staff, 2011). According to NWAC, there are 582 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, 67% are murder cases, 20% are cases of missing women or girls, 4% are cases of suspicious death by family or community members, and 9% are unknown cases whether the woman was murdered, missing or died in suspicious (2015). In Canada, Indigenous peoples have the highest uneducated rate.
Addressing racism/inequality is an important part of Canadian identity. Downie believed that Canada must eliminate the Indian Act that is racial discrimination. He always strongly supports Indigenous rights. In 2016, during the nationally broadcast celebration of The Tragically Hip, Downie openly avowed in front of thousands of people that Trudeau is the first prime minister who will fulfill the rights of the Aboriginal Peoples (Hipmuseum, n.d.). Hopefully, it seems to be true, because the prime minister Justin Trudeau show a positive signal toward the Indigenous societies. According to the CBC news, Trudeau declared to the First Nations leaders in Gatineau, Quebec that he drew up his plan for Indigenous people. And he added he would fulfill the promises he made during the election campaign, such as commencing a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, making education investments for Indigenous people. He also promises that to raise the 2% cap on funding for Indigenous peoples programs, enforcing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and abolishing all one-sided laws that enforced on Indigenous people (Mas, 2015). Within a year, the prime minister begins a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and invest $2.6 billion over four years for First Nations education (Bryden, 2016). The other promises are still coming.
In conclusion, Goodnight Attawapiskat is a song that encourages Indigenous people not to be hopeless and to wait until their bright future arrive. In Canada, Indigenous peoples experience the highest rate, such as suicide, murdered and missing women and girls, and uneducated. That’s why Downie wrote this song to remind Canadian who do not become aware the situation of Indigenous people. As a result, we can see some positive response under Trudeau government. Therefore, it is important not only for Indigenous people but also for all Canadians.