Kokums rap encourages self-expression by youth
- Angela Hill | September 30, 2019
Four kokums in Saskatchewan are rapping in a music video to voice their acceptance of the music that youth use for expression.
“It doesn’t matter what language it comes in. I just think everybody deserves to be heard and we can all learn from that,” said Maxine Roy, one of the kokums.
“For me, it was the most beautiful experience I could possibly ask for, to have multiple opportunities to sit around the table with these women,” said Zoey, of the authors, poets and elders who worked on the rap.
“These women all have traits that I aspire to have one day.”
The project was born in conversation between Zoey and Campbell, supported by the University of Saskatchewan Art Galleries, and written around a kitchen table laden with coffee, tea and bannock.
“Being an Indigenous grandmother, it’s not always easy, working with families and with people where there are a lot of sad things happening, so to work on something like this was so different,” said Campbell.
The song is in Cree and English.
“The language really helps us of course … it was really easy for us to do our rhyming because a lot of the Cree words gave themselves to that rhyme and rhythm,” said Bouiver.
She says the message to youth is that these kokum’s embrace the way youth express themselves.
“It was also a way of saying to our communities, let’s stand up and support the youth and let’s let them know we love them and our proud of them.”
For Maxine the project holds a special place in her heart, as she got to work alongside her daughter Zoey.
“She’s always been very creative and very interest in what life has to offer. It’s very therapeutic to watch your child teach you, and you grow from their growth … It’s a joy, it’s a pleasure.” she said.
“We as grandmothers … we want people and kids to know that we support them, no matter how it is that they try to articulate their selves, we are going to listen.”
Zoey says the rap gives permission for young people to approach their culture and their languages exactly who they are.
“It sends the messages that our cultures, our languages, our stories, they’re not only alive and well, but they are evolving, they are growing, they are within us. We are our nations.”
And the name? “To be honest, kokum rap was just supposed to be a working title, but it’s just so catchy that it was just the perfect title for the song.”