The Mu­si­cian

Richmond Hill Post - - Inspire - BY CHERIE DIMALINE AU­THOR

In­spir­ing per­for­mances from con­cert stages to Canada Reads

I’d heard ru­mours, sto­ries re­ally, about mag­i­cal women who rode into bat­tle with full con­vic­tion, chests burst­ing with al­tru­ism and con­fi­dence — a pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion if ever there was one. Women who worked hard for other women. Women who didn’t need any­one’s “Atta girl.” But I thought that’s all they were — sto­ries. And then I met Jully Black.

Jully was my de­fender on the 2018 edi­tion of CBC’s Canada Reads, an an­nual bat­tle of the books. My book The Mar­row Thieves was cho­sen for the com­pe­ti­tion. It was a long shot — a book with a sto­ry­line that forced Cana­di­ans to look at their own geno­ci­dal his­tory where Indige­nous peo­ple are con­cerned. But there was Jully, on day one, singing her way into the stu­dio, chal­leng­ing any­one to try to take her mar­row.

Jully was in con­tact daily, mak­ing sure she un­der­stood the is­sues, build­ing her case sup­ported by her gen­uine pas­sion. The day af­ter she learned the Pope re­fused to apol­o­gize for the church’s role in Cana­dian res­i­den­tial schools, she ques­tioned him and all of us on na­tional TV as a woman of faith. Her per­for­mance dur­ing the show sparked a move­ment (and a T-shirt) to “Take it to the al­tar,” and my book sits on the na­tional best­seller list to this day. This is be­cause Jully rode into bat­tle with it tucked un­der her ad­mirably toned arm, bring­ing racism, clas­sism, col­o­niza­tion and Indige­nous rights to a huge plat­form. Jully is in­spi­ra­tion in­car­nate. We are so lucky to have her on ev­ery stage she has been in­vited to. She is more than an ally, more than my sis­ter. She is my ab­so­lute hero.


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