Music is the medicine
Local musicians gather to provide free concert for evacuees
Singer and songwriter Dakota Favel is moments away from going on stage for a concert on the lawn behind Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre.
On regular day, Favel is a student at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Prince Albert Campus. On this day, he’ll take the stage for an audience that includes residents from Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay and other communities evacuated after wildfires began burning across northern Saskatchewan. Unlike regular concerts, it’s all for free.
“It actually takes away a lot of stress,” Favel says. “Music has a type of healing, as you would say. Sitting around you can see the people enjoying themselves. You can hear the laughter and everything. Music, it brings healing.”
Favel is talking about evacuee stress levels, not his own, but he knows a bit about the feeling. His hometown of Ile a la Crosse was one of many forced to evacuate in 2015, during the largest wildfire evacuation in Saskatchewan history.
When asked by organizer Sheryl Kimbley to come out and play, Favel jumped at the opportunity. Now he wants to help evacuees feel a bit of safety and joy, even if only for a few hours.
“All of Saskatchewan, we’re like a big huge family,” he said. “Looking after one another is what we’re all about.”
Favel is one of 36 musical acts that turned out to play for evacuees, and not all of them came from Prince Albert.
Mykal and Dallas Gambull drove up from Saskatoon, stopping only at Beardy’s and Okamasis to pick up fellow band member Eddie Cameron.
All three were part of a similar concert two years ago in Beardy’s, and eagerly agreed to be involved again.
“We had Rez Cross in Beardy’s, and we spearheaded a show, the same thing like this,” Mykal remembered. “When people are displaced, they need the entertainment. They need to be stimulated.
“Music is the medicine.”
All three musicians said there’s a strong musical connection in the north, so concerts are a natural place for bonding and camaraderie. Like Favel, they hoped to help evacuees forget their troubles for an evening.
“There’s despair,” Dallas said. “You look around and people are probably feeling (terrible). They don’t even know what’s going on back home.... I can’t imagine what they feel, but at least we can do a little bit on our part to ease it for them.”
“It brings joy into people’s lives,” Cameron added. “There’s nothing better than that, especially when they’re displaced from their homes. It’s the smallest thing we can do with our talents.”
Singer and songwriter Dakota Faval performs during the Night of Music concert outside of the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre on Thursday.
Guitarist Dallas Gambull and fiddler Corny Michel perform for wildfire evacuees on Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Allen Bird Memorial Centre.