MW Rx. Exuma, Gordon Lightfoot, Anishinabe kwewag and Zhoganosh kwewag

Reach for each other, and remember the way home.

By Risa Dickens, Amy Torok,

May 6, 2023
3 min read
A painting of a Black person's face with Exuma in red. A photo of Lightfoot, white man with blond hair and beard.

This week we are dragged under and looking for signs. We are saying goodbye to problematic musical ancestors. We are dying of loneliness, and turning to the magic in reparations and in all our circles of care.

This week's prescription begins with Exuma (via Amber Goodwyn) reminding Risa that "You Don't Know What's Going On" and in fact none of us do. Sometimes we need to release our white-knuckle grip, our illusion of control, reach for each other, and remember the way home.

You can't change the night into day
And you can't take the milk from the milky way
You can't take the sun from the sky
And you can't put the light in Ray Charles eyes
Come go with me
Come take my hand
I'm going home

Amy calls in the voices of those who longed to go home. The women who wrote Strong Women's Song to stay alive, to survive a man-made hell, and to call forth their power to resist:

Nancy Stevens reminds those who sing it that the Strong Women’s Song should be credited to the Anishinabe kwewag and Zhoganosh kwewag who were in solitary confinement in the Prison For Women in Kingston, Ontario during the 1970’s. Although indigenous women across the globe have long been guardians of human rights, the issue in Canada at the time was a need to revise the Indian Act which removed a woman’s Indian status if she married a non-Indian man. Nancy said “It was these women who had this song come to them. My understanding, from one of the women I sing with and who went to P4W to work with the women there at that time, that this song emerged as a way of staying alive, of supporting each other in that hell hole. Many women in P4W lost their lives because of the horrendous conditions there. We sing this song to honour them, and all women.”

Both Amy and Risa bring Gordon Lightfoot songs to mark the troubadour's passing. Imperfect ancestor, one of the voices of our imperfect nation. His songs were in the background of our childhoods. They sound like nostalgia, like mourning, and maybe a bit like hope, too. And we invite you to join us there, in a Canada of the mind. Heading off on a River of Light, heading home on the Carefree Highway.

Now the thing that I call living
Is just being satisfied
With knowing I got no one left to blame

Carefree highway
Let me slip away, slip away on you

And one last thing: A musical message from May Marigold. "The world's drifting through me, and my life is all to me.  I love myself and all of me. I love myself and all of me. I love myself and all of me. I love myself and all of me."

So mote it be.

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