Montreal artist Patrick Watson says recognition of Aboriginal lands is “censored” in Canada Day performance

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Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson says that Canadian Heritage published an acknowledgment of the land it made to Aboriginal peoples before its performance on Canada Day in Montreal.Watson posted on Facebook Thursday, saying he was “deeply upset” to discover that his statement had not been broadcast for an hour, which had been pre-recorded and filmed at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

The virtual show was funded by the federal government to replace the annual festivities held in Montreal to celebrate National Day.

The Montreal-based communications agency, Tandem Communication, staged the show.

The musician said that he made this recognition during his performance, but that it was not included in the program broadcast to Canadians. A version of the performance, available online, does not contain Watson’s tribute to Aboriginal peoples.

Land recognition is a declaration that recognizes that Aboriginal peoples occupied the land that became Canada long before colonization.

Watson posted what he called the “censored” words he said during his performance.

“We would like to recognize that we are playing this event from the unceded lands of the Kanien’keha: ka nation,” he wrote.

“Tiohtia: ke / Montreal is known as the gathering place for many First Nations, we hope to honor this tradition. ”

The musician said he wanted to celebrate “where I am standing, to highlight the connection between the Aboriginal struggles with the Black Lives Matter movement and to include all of those who live in Canada and their sensitivities.”

A spokesperson for Canadian Heritage said that it did not participate in the programming choices of the communities and organizations it funds.

“Each year, Canadian Heritage provides funds to support activities through the Celebrate Canada program. This funding allows communities and organizations across Canada to celebrate the diversity of our country through four days of celebration, including Canada Day, “said spokesperson Martine Courage in an email. .

“The communities and organizations funded are responsible for programming their respective activities. ”

Deputy Leader of the NDP, Alexandre Boulerice, Member of Parliament for Quebec, said that the Minister of Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, had to explain why Watson’s declaration was not included in the official program.

If Guilbeault does not explain the decision, Boulerice said in an interview, “It would be very, very hypocritical for the Liberals to reconcile with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples and then censor artists who simply want to express their solidarity with certain indigenous peoples. ”

Guilbeault, however, mentioned the indigenous peoples of the country, in a recorded statement published in the virtual representation of Canada Day. In fact, Guilbeault’s message opens the show.

The minister said that “Aboriginal people have cared for this land for centuries. Their cultures and traditions are a great source of wealth for this country ”.

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