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‘I want him to see the resilience of our people’: Indigenous singer on the Pope’s visit to Canada

By Vanessa Lee and Michael Lee

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    TORONTO (CTV Network) — For many people, talking about one’s “dark past” can be a bit taboo, but not for Beatrice Deer.

A survivor in her own right, Deer has lost family to tragedy and experienced her own trauma.

But through music, the Montreal-based singer-songwriter says she was able to express her feelings in a way she would not have been able to otherwise.

“I find my music a way to give me a platform to talk about hope,” she told CTV National News. “That life can be terrible but it can get better with effort and support, and hope, and belief, and love, and all that.”

The award-winning Inuk and Mohawk singer will be among a group of Indigenous artists who will perform this week while Pope Francis embarks on his tour of Canada.

On Monday, the Pope apologized for the role members of the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system.

Deer’s parents attended Canada’s Indian day schools, which like the residential school system sought to assimilate Indigenous children.

In her own life, Deer lost a sister to suicide, along with two of her siblings and a cousin in a fire.

As a child, she was sexually abused and over time, that trauma drove her to drink.

“I was a very broken girl and I decided that I’m going to be determined to heal from that and see if life can actually be joyous, and I found out that it can be,” Deer said.

Now sober, she says while the past can’t be changed, what matters is what you choose to do next.

And by singing in her language, Inuktitut, and wearing her traditional markings, she is making a statement: “We’re still here.”

“I want him (the Pope) to see the resilience of our people and the ability for us to sing and dance, in spite of what we’ve gone through. It gives me goosebumps. It gives me so much strength to know that,” Deer said.

“No matter what we’ve gone through, we’re still strong and we’re going to get even stronger after this.”

With files from CTV News

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Sonja Puzic

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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