‘Reconciliation is a political word that’s been co-opted’: says musician Jeremy Dutcher

Jeremy Dutcher loves performing and the platform he’s been provided over the past year.

And what a year it’s been.

Dutcher released his debut album, “Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa” in 2018 to widespread praise.

The album would go on to win the prestigious Polaris Music Prize and the 2019 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year.

Dutcher also used his acceptance speech at the Juno’s to take aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying a Nation to Nation relationship does not look like pipelines, boil water advisories or sending militarized police into unceded territory.

“For me reconciliation is a political word. It’s been co-opted and I’m not really interested in it,” says Dutcher who believes Indigenous peoples are used as pawns in this country to talk politics.

“I think it’s offensive and repugnant.”

The performer, composer, and activist believes if you have a platform, use it to speak “power to truth.”

Dutcher says all of the things he outlined in his acceptance speech are “unacceptable.”

“It’s 2019 and we still don’t have communities with clean drinking water in this country.  Canada, one of the most resource rich countries in the world.  For me to hold this position right now that I have and not say something,” says Dutcher.

Dutcher is also a defender of LGBTQ2S rights.

Having someone who identified as both Indigenous and queer is something Dutcher says he didn’t have growing up as a young person.

“So, for me that’s a very important space to take up,” he says. “And to let young people know that if you’re experiencing homophobia or transphobia in your community, that is not us.  All of those lessons were learned from that Christian church.”

To get to the position that has now Dutcher has taken roughly five years.

The member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick graduated music school to become an opera singer but was looking for ways to express his identity, culture and language through music.

Dutcher was urged by an Elder to work with wax cylinders of Wolastoq songs from 1907.

Transcribing the songs led to “Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa” and the continuation of a life long journey with his language.

“We’re in a very precarious point right now with our language.  In my mother’s generation, it was the language of everyday.  Now we have less than one hundred fluent speakers” says Dutcher who believes it is the people of this generation who help turn that around.

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