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3 Winnipeg grandmothers band together to create rap song in support of landfill search, MMIWG

Three Winnipeg grandmothers are using rap music to advocate for the search of a landfill north of the city, where the remains of two First Nations women are believed to be.

Song by Grassroots Grannies 1st release for national, 7-part project

Four women are pictured smiling toward the camera.

Three Winnipeg grandmothers are using rap music to advocate for the search of a landfill north of the city, where the remains of two First Nations women are believed to be.

Grassroots Grannies is made up of three Winnipeg women: Vivian Ketchum, Geraldine (Gramma) Shingoose and Chickadee Richard. Their song, Ogichidaa, is the first release of a national seven-part series called the Medicine Songs Project.

The lyrics of Ogichidaa, which means "warrior" or "big-hearted person" in Anishinaabemowin, addresses missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as well as the people pushing for a landfill search to find the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.

Police believe the two women were among four killed by one man, and that Harris's and Myran's remains were taken to Prairie Green landfill, north of Winnipeg, in May 2022. Calls for a landfill search have been made since police shared that information the following December.

"Search the land, bring them home. This is our heart's demand," the lyrics of Ogichidaa say, followed by: "Don't let me die."

LISTEN | Winnipeg grannies use rap to advocate:

Up To Speed10:36Grassroots Grannies create rap song advocating for a search of the landfill

Featured VideoGrandmothers Geraldine Shingoose, Chickadee Richard, and Vivian Ketchum met with Zoey Roy, to create a song called Ogichidaa. The first release of a seven song project called "The Medicine Songs Project."Guest Host Marjorie Dowhos speaks to Vivian Ketchum about the song and why it's important to her.

Ketchum, a longtime community advocate, says Ogichidaa was a different way for the grandmothers to express their message and show support for family members of Harris and Myran, whom they have been in close contact with since calls for the landfill search began.

"It's really heartbreaking to see the heartbreak of the family members," Ketchum told guest host Marjorie Dowhos in an interview with CBC Radio's Up to Speed on Monday.

The recording process got emotional because the piece meant so much to the three grandmothers, Ketchum said.

The song is also a tribute to the Indigenous children who did not return home from residential schools, she said.

Ketchum's home community, Wauzhushk Onigum Nation in northwestern Ontario, announced Monday that cadaver dogs alerted them to 22 underground locations where there might be human remains near the former St. Mary's Indian Residential School in Kenora; 171 plausible burial sites were previously detected using ground-penetrating radar.

Shingoose said it was "very empowering" to sing the song with Ketchum and Richard.

"We had powerful moments, but we also had a lot of laughter, too — and happy tears — sad ones, too," she said during the Up to Speed interview.

The song honours the legacy of resistance that every Indigenous person carries, she said.

"I know people will get emotional … and that's OK. It's speaking the truth about our women that are in the landfill," Shingoose said.

"We are speaking so that everyone will listen to us."

'Not an isolated issue'

Creative producer Zoey Roy, a Cree-Dene and Métis poet, met with the three women over five weeks last summer to help shape Ogichidaa. Created in the spirit of community building and protest, Roy said she hopes the song speaks to younger people.

"It's a communication tool, so I hope that this song stirs up their nation, and reaches the minds and hearts of people everywhere," she said.

The Medicine Songs Project will travel to six more communities across Canada over the next year, stopping next in Kingston, Ont., and Regina, Sask., Roy said.

It was inspired by another, similar project she led, called Rapping Kokums, in 2019.

Ketchum's, Richard's and Shingoose's song shows that MMIWG is an issue that goes beyond the landfill search and Winnipeg, Roy said.

"They're showing us that this issue that they're facing in Winnipeg is not an isolated issue but a part of a larger strategy of genocide."

With files from Kalkidan Mulugeta and Özten Shebahkeget

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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