OUR COUN­TRY

The Cree singer-song­writer ex­plains what makes Saskatchewan’s Qu’ap­pelle Val­ley so special to her

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS -

Cree singer-song­writer Buffy Sainte-marie on Saskatchewan’s beau­ti­ful Qu’ap­pelle Val­ley

II’m orig­i­nally from Saskatchewan, but I didn’t grow up there, didn’t have a con­scious­ness of it un­til I was re­united with fam­ily in the Qu’ap­pelle Val­ley. My favourite sea­son in the val­ley is sum­mer be­cause it’s so very beau­ti­ful. I re­mem­ber sun­sets that were blue and pur­ple and red, and a land­scape golden with mus­tard and wheat. To have all that flat prairie and then see those rolling hills with those spec­tac­u­lar colours has al­ways given me not only a sense of home and fam­ily but also of ho­li­ness. I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in peo­ple’s re­la­tion­ship to the cre­ator, and when my dad and I would talk about that, he would al­ways start by say­ing, “We’ll go to a clean spot,” which we’d do, then we’d pray and then we’d talk. But it wasn’t like some stiff movie-in­dian thing — it was al­ways this pre­cious, gen­tle, al­most fem­i­nine feel for the mind be­hind all na­ture. There’s so lit­tle that has been prop­erly de­scribed to non-in­dian peo­ple about our re­la­tion­ship to the land through a sense of the sa­cred, and that was some­thing I al­ways loved dis­cussing with the peo­ple who had been raised with teepees and buck­boards, the peo­ple who were old when I was young, as we sat sur­rounded by coulees where there was sweet­grass grow­ing. I’ve writ­ten quite a few songs about this area, but I think “Soldier Blue” has lyrics apro­pos to my dad’s idea of go­ing to a clean spot to en­joy the con­nec­tion with na­ture: Yes this is my coun­try Young and grow­ing free and flow­ing sea to sea Yes this is my coun­try Ripe and bear­ing mir­a­cles in ev­ery pond and tree

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