They began arriving in August 2017. One and two at a time they came. The choir grew day by day, led by Pihtokahanapiwiyin, Kamiokisihkwew, Shingwauk, Keeseekoowenin, and Isapo-Muxika. And still, they come. Day by day.
Horse Lake, Beaver, Bush, Yellowknife, Salt River, Birch Narrows, Black Lake, Sunshield, Paul Band, Maskwacis, Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Sampson, Montana, Pigeon Lake, Cold Lake, Saddle Lake, Frog and Onion Lakes, Makwa Sahgaiencan, Little Pine, Sweetgrass, Muskeg Lake, Muskeday, One Arrow, James Smith, Day Star, Yellow Quill, Kankewistaha, Pheasant Rump, Sandy lake, McDowell Lake, Lac Seul, Eagle Lake, Attawapiskat, Garden River, Missanabie, Bear River, and Benoit.
Scuggs, Rama, Bedusoleil, Serpent River, Tetoten, Kwikevtlem, Semiahmoo, Alexis, Chipewyan, Big Stone, Kainai, Blue Quills, Amber River, Busche River, Driftpile, Pigeon Lake, Heart Lake, Horse Lake, and Devil’s Gate.
Big Horn, Stoney, Sturgeon, Stonechild and Sunchild. Swan River, Beaver Ranch, Tsuu T’ina.
They travel far. Their hearts are carried on the leaves of the aspens, wings of eagles, and the songs of sisters. That missed drum beat? Borrowed for this journey.
Osoyoos , Okanagan, Tsinstikeptum, People of the Knife, People of the Sand, People of the Lake, People of the Sun. Sweetgrass, Fond du Lac, Pelican Narrows. Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stoney Point, Chippewa, Oneida and Delaware of the Thames.
From Attawapiskat, Aroland, Bearskin, Beaverhouse, Brunswick, Cat Lake, Constance Lake, Deer Lake, Eabametoong, Flying Post, Forts Severn and Albany, Ginoogaming, Kasabonika, Kashechewan, Keewayin, Koocheching, Lac Seul, Long Lake, Martin Falls, Matachewan, Mattagami, Mishkeegogamang, they come.
Cowesses, Piapot, Peepeekisis, Kahkewistahaw, Daystar, Carry the Kettle. White Bear, Standing Buffalo, Nekaneet. Birdtail, Bloodvein and Brokenhead.
Missanabie, Mocreebec, Muskrat Dam, Neskataga, Nibinamick, North Caribou and North Spirit Lake, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Wahgoshig, Wapekeka, Wawakapewin, Weenusk, Whitewater Lake, and Wunnumin Lake.
They are brought by rivers and prayers on the wind and are threaded into this unfolding by all the forces of creation. Tarahumara, Purépecha, Tepeherán, Otomi, Guarijo. Barkindji, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngyiampaa breathe their soul-sounds through drum and didgeridoo. Murrawarri, Anangu, Palawa and Yolngu and Bininj sing together, a chorus crying “Freedom!”
There are hundreds more. They come; flag by flag, soul by soul.
They sing for home, they sing for tribe, they sing for love not spoken and deep sorrow.
Silenced no more, they will be heard.
We live and move and breathe as one.
For them. For freedom.