“We Have Not Forgotten How To Laugh”

June 4, 2012

Pamela Sevigny and Qatsuu Evis after their Inuit throat singing performance.

On Thursday I attended the opening evening of the Truth and Reconciliation Event in Toronto. Like many of these events, the evening included statements of support and challenge as well as musical and artistic performances. Lt. Governor David Onley pledged his ongoing support for the work of the commission while Chief William Montour of the Six Nations of Grand River called the TRC toothless, pushing for more recognition of ongoing issues facing First Nation communities such as land, health and housing.

As always, the evening focused on some difficult truths, about Canada’s colonial history and about a challenging road ahead. But the event was also a celebration of sorts, a celebration of resilience. The MC for the evening, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, noted that even in the face of incredible obstacles and hardship, “we have not forgotten how to dance and we have not forgotten how to laugh.”

Two young Inuit throat singers were a great example of this laughter and resilience. The two young women stood on stage, holding each other by the arms, standing face to face. They began the rhythmic humming and deep gutteral sounds of throat singing. An exercise in both competition and collaboration, each song ended in laughter. I am by no means an expert in Inuit throat singing, and so all I will say about their performance is that it was beautiful, and that their laughter was inspiring.

2 Responses to ““We Have Not Forgotten How To Laugh””

  1. len fortune Says:

    The young Inuit throat-singers were fabulous, their voices were magical and their laughter contagious, along with Ovide Mercredi’s Friday night speech, the girls were certainly one of the highlights of the three-day conference …

  2. n.a. Says:

    Thanks for your comment. One of the things that constantly surprises me at these events is how laughter still rises even as much of the conference focuses on such difficult memories. I wish I had been able to stay for Ovide Mercredi’s speech. I think there may be video of the conference available at some point. I’ll have to try to find it.

    Naomi


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