Jerry Cans rock the Big Land

Iqaluit band com­bines tra­di­tional with coun­try, rock, reg­gae for Na­tional Indige­nous Peo­ples Day cel­e­bra­tions

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Community - BY THOM BARKER thom@thom­barker.ca

In­tro­duc­ing a song called “I don’t want to work”, Jerry Cans front­man An­drew Mor­ri­son had a mes­sage that res­onated in Postville June 25.

“It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber to get out on the land, so don’t work too hard,” he said, draw­ing cheers and ap­plause from the B.L. Mor­ri­son Com­mu­nity School gym­na­sium, where more than 100 of the town’s 180 res­i­dents had turned out to see the Iqaluit band’s show.

“The re­ac­tion’s been amaz­ing, we’ve had more than half of each town, 70 per cent of these towns, com­ing out to our shows, scream­ing and en­er­getic and cel­e­brat­ing,” Mor­ri­son said dur­ing an in­ter­view prior to the Postville con­cert.

The tour, spon­sored by the Nu­natsi­avut gov­ern­ment’s De­part­ment of Health and So­cial De­vel­op­ment (DHSD), in­cluded Nain, Hope­dale, Postville, Makkovik, Rigo­let and Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay. It was the Jerry Cans’ first time in Labrador.

“It’s been the place that we, for some rea­son or an­other, haven’t been able to get to for a long time, so we’re fi­nally mak­ing it hap­pen be­cause of some spon­sor­ship from the Nu­natsi­avut gov­ern­ment,” Mor­ri­son said.

He con­tin­ued, “It’s been very cool to see how sim­i­lar life is here to where we live in Iqaluit in Nu­navut. We’ve trav­elled all of the cir­cum­po­lar north be­cause when we were grow­ing up there wasn’t much mu­sic, there wasn’t much art that was hap­pen­ing that would come to our town, so we pri­or­i­tized play­ing in the north. We’ve dreamed of The Jerry Cans, from left, Gina Burgess (vi­o­lin), Avery Keenainak (ac­cor­dion, throat-singing), Steve Rigby (drums), An­drew Mor­ri­son (gui­tar, vo­cals) and Bren­dan Do­herty (bass) per­formed in Postville Mon­day, June 25.

com­ing here for so many years and it’s fi­nally hap­pen­ing and it’s so cool to see and great to talk to peo­ple and peo­ple are very ex­cited, which is nice too.”

Chal­leng­ing times

The Jerry Cans sing in Inuk­ti­tut, com­bin­ing throat-singing and tra­di­tional rhythms with in­flu­ences of coun­try, rock and even reg­gae. They cel­e­brate global north­ern cul­ture — Mor­ri­son cited the sim­i­lar­i­ties in lan­guage, food, con­nec­tion to the land and pol­i­tics — but also ad­dress unique, press­ing so­cial is­sues, par­tic­u­larly youth sui­cide.

“In Nain, a young man took his own life a week ago or so and then this morn­ing (June 25) we just heard about a friend of ours from our home­town who died by sui­cide, so that is a more

chal­leng­ing sim­i­lar­ity, but it’s ex­actly why we’re do­ing what we’re do­ing, to try to con­nect with youth and com­mu­ni­ties to try to fig­ure out a so­lu­tion to that chal­leng­ing prob­lem, sui­cide in the north,” Mor­ri­son said.

In fact, spon­sor­ing the tour was part of DHSD’s men­tal health pro­gram­ming, al­though no com­ment was pro­vided to The Labradorian as of press time.

Mor­ri­son hopes when young peo­ple see the Jerry Cans cel­e­brat­ing the cul­ture, lov­ing life and singing in Inuk­ti­tut, it will have a pos­i­tive im­pact.

“I think that’s what’s im­por­tant,” he said. “The me­mo­rial for the young man (in Nain) was a few days ago, but I think af­ter those tough times, it’s im­port- ant to cel­e­brate and to re­flect on why those things hap­pen, but also re­flect and try to sup-

Cport and build on the beau­ti­ful things that are in these com­mu­ni­ties. “It’s such a beau­ti­ful place and we’re just kind of hum­bled by all of the hos­pi­tal­ity peo­ple are giv­ing us even in those chal­leng­ing times in com­mu­ni­ties. I think it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber how beau­ti­ful this place is.” Good en­ergy

Na­tional Indige­nous Peo­ples Day was June 21, but Postville de­cided to post­pone the cel­e­bra­tion and com­bine it with the Jerry Cans visit. The town hosted a bon­fire June 24 fol­lowed by a com­mu­nity potluck sup­per and the con­cert June 25. The band ar­rived at the sup­per di­rectly from the air­port.

“If you re­ally want to hit a mu­si­cian in their soul, in their heart, a home-cooked meal is a top pri­or­ity,” Mor­ri­son said. “We come from the north so we love fish and seal and goose and that’s our soul food, so any chance to get that gives us some good en­ergy.”

They got good en­ergy back from the au­di­ence.

THOM BARKER PHO­TOS/SPE­CIAL TO THE LABRADORIAN

Postville res­i­dents toasted wee­nies and marsh­mal­lows dur­ing a bon­fire cel­e­brat­ing Na­tional Indige­nous Peo­ples Day Sun­day, June 24.

Res­i­dents of Postville en­joyed para­chute games as part of Na­tional Indige­nous Peo­ples Day cel­e­bra­tions at a bon­fire June 24.

Jerry Cans front­man An­drew Mor­ri­son sang a new song about the prob­lem of do­mes­tic abuse dur­ing an Na­tional Indige­nous Peo­ples Day con­cert in Postville June 25.

Pic­tured from back, Stephen Rose, Max­ine Manak-An­der­son and Chad Rose judged the tra­di­tional food con­test dur­ing a com­mu­nity potluck sup­per in Postville June 25.

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