The Granby Music Festival makes an about-face with an Aboriginal artist
A Granby music festival has made an abrupt U-turn following its decision to ban an Indigenous rapper for his use of the Indigenous language in his songs, taking the decision Tuesday night to allow Anishnabeg rapper Samian to perform at the festival.
Critics of the Festival international de la chanson de Granby’s decision to ban the singer for his lack of use of French in his songs were widely circulated on social media earlier this week.
Anishnabeg rapper Samian, from Pikogan, Quebec, whose first name is Samuel Tremblay, performs in French and Anishinaabemowin, one of the many Algonquin dialects.
“It is with dismay that I realize that my struggle of the past 15 years to promote First Nations culture and languages is not over, despite the few advances I have seen,” Samian said. “I find that very insulting. For me, the show comes as it is. My latest album is all in Algonquin… you can take it or leave it — and they left it.“
Samian shared his frustration on social media over the weekend, saying booking agents needed to “do their homework”.
Initially, Samian was kicked out of the festival because the organizers demanded that the majority of his music be in French, in accordance with Bill 96, after a discussion with the organizers last weekend, after they demanded that no less than 20% of his music is in a language other than French.
“I can’t begin to calculate the percentage of French and native language on my show,” he said. “I felt like I was talking to politicians. I think festival organizers have a duty and a responsibility. If they decide to invite indigenous artists to perform, they shouldn’t limit themselves to quotas or percentages…they should invite them because the artists want to express themselves in their mother tongue.
On Tuesday, the festival said it was “sincerely sorry for the turn of events”, noting that it approached Samian’s representatives to invite him to participate in the festival.
“Samian is an artist the team loves,” the festival said. “Knowing that in his repertoire there are titles in French and titles in his mother tongue, we indicated to his representative our openness to allow him to perform songs in his two languages while taking into account the primary mission of the festival which is to promote French song.
The about-face followed a storm of controversy over the artistic expression and use of French in Quebec – particularly as it relates to Indigenous artists.
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) weighed in Tuesday, saying it should come as no surprise that Indigenous peoples are treated like second-class citizens in Quebec.
“The position of the FICG reflects the position of the provincial government of Quebec which, with its law 96, imposes French to the detriment of the first languages of the indigenous peoples. Another example of a colonial ideology that is well established in Quebec”, declared the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION