BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE

Elle (Canada) - - Anniversary -

When Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood won the Po­laris Mu­sic Prize last year, it felt like fit­ting (fi­nally!) recog­ni­tion for a bar­rier-bust­ing artist who has spent more than five decades forg­ing her own path to suc­cess—a path that took her from a Saskatchewan re­serve to singing with Joni Mitchell and Leonard Co­hen, pen­ning an Os­car-win­ning track (a lit­tle ditty called “Up Where We Be­long”), act­ing op­po­site Pierce Bros­nan (with a de­tour to Sesame Street along the way) and a life­time of ad­vo­cat­ing for the rights of in­dige­nous peo­ples. WHAT’S YOUR NUM­BER ONE PIECE OF AD­VICE FOR 15-YEAR-OLDS TO­DAY? “I’d ask them about their dreams and tell them that the world isn’t only what’s ad­ver­tised out there; it’s much bet­ter, but you have to cre­ate a lot of it in­side as you go or it won’t hap­pen. Your life is yours to pro­tect and pro­ject, so don’t wait around for some­body else’s magic wand: Pick up your own and start wav­ing.” WHAT WERE THE MOST DEFIN­ING 15 MIN­UTES OF YOUR LIFE? “The first time I played with a pi­ano and found out I could do it—with­out lessons! Nat­u­ral mu­sic be­came my ev­ery­thing in a neigh­bour­hood where I was told that (1) In­di­ans no longer ex­ist, (2) ba­bies are fed with for­mula and (3) mu­sic is some­thing you learn in mu­sic class, which I al­ways flunked be­cause I’m dyslexic. Be­cause I loved that pi­ano so much, I learned that some of what peo­ple tell you might be true for them but 100-per­cent false for you. No­body knows what you can do un­til you do it.” WHAT EX­CITES YOU WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD IN 15 YEARS’ TIME? “Ev­ery­body is go­ing to be 15 years’ more evolved, no mat­ter where each is start­ing from now—not only tech­nol­ogy (more con­nec­tiv­ity, more trans­parency, more in­put from ev­ery­body) but also each of us will be 15 years’ smarter, riper and more ex­pe­ri­enced.” WHAT WOR­RIES YOU WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD IN 15 YEARS’ TIME? “The residue of to­day’s rack­e­teers; the cur­rent ex­pan­sion of sen­sa­tion­al­ism, greed and power. Money isn’t ev­ery­thing, but that’s what we’re teach­ing one an­other—and not only in MBA pro­grams. We need a counter­weight in the home, in education and in the spir­i­tual realm of peo­ple’s com­mon-sense heart truth.” WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS? “I re­con­firmed my un­der­stand­ing of flex­i­bil­ity. I re­al­ized that I would have to go back on the road in or­der to sup­port my own non-profit, which is how I started any­way. Among the squawks of ad­ver­tis­ing and canned val­ues telling us to buy into war and greed, a girl can still hear her own song.” WHAT WOULD YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD SELF THINK OF YOU TO­DAY? “If piti­ful 15-year-old me could ex­pe­ri­ence my to­day, she would see light at the end of a dark tun­nel and be very, very happy.” h

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