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Author | Photo Lisa MacIntosh

IsKwé On ‘The Fight Within’

IsKwé’s stunning new album, The Fight Within, dropped earlier this month.

“This album is really precious to me,” she notes. “The issues I touch on here are real issues that are impacting Indigenous people every day. From our Missing & Murdered Women and Girls to youth suicide epidemics within our communities to the land protectors out fighting for our planet each and every day; I wanted to counter the stereotypes cast our way and push back against the idea that we won’t or can’t succeed. I wanted to give back to the people I care most about – our younger generations. This album is for them.”

Named one of the Top 10 Artists To Watch by CBC Music, IsKwé (which means woman in her native language) is performing at The Rivoli this Saturday, November 18th (w/ Rococode). Get tickets here

SDTC: Your background is Irish & Cree/Dené/Métis. Why is it important for you to reconnect with your heritage at this point in time?

I: I’ve always been pretty invested and involved in my community back home and wherever I go (in North America). The nice thing about being Indigenous to North America is that while our nations vary depending on the territory, we’re all super happy when native people from different territories come through, so there’s a sense of community and belonging wherever we go. That’s why we maintain our Friendship Centres – they’re the community gathering places.

What should we be paying more attention to?

How we, as individuals, can be better people today than we were yesterday. I try to remember this as my daily mantra. Our society has gone so far away from “caring for our neighbours” mentality. I feel it’s so critical that we find our way back!

Can you walk us through the process for developing your latest album, The Fight Within

When I was in Winnipeg a few summers ago, we lost one of our young community members. Her name was Tina Fontaine, she was fifteen, and while I didn’t know her personally, her death really impacted me. It was sort of this moment where you’ve just had enough, you know? Like, why is OUR community constantly experiencing this level of loss? And why do so few people beyond our community know about this? So really, it was moments like this one that opened my eyes to wanting to reach people and have these chats about what’s taking place…doing my best to play a part in raising awareness and understanding.

What did you learn about yourself in the making of this latest album?

Interesting question! These things are always a process…I’d say the biggest thing I learned was how much better I feel as an artist making my own decisions when it comes to creating music that actually reflects me and the sounds I love, the content I want to talk about, etc., and to trust myself and my judgment when it comes to these areas! Learning to trust myself was a big one.

What do you hope listeners will take away from your new album?

Honestly, I love when people pull whatever they need from it. I think we hear what we need to hear when we listen to music, and that’s such a beautiful thing. Sometimes we know exactly what the artist was speaking/writing about, but often times we don’t…both options are perfect!

What can we expect from your performance at The Rivoli?

Oooooh! It’s going to be MASSIVE. We have a really special surprise and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am…something that’s not on the record. That’s all I’m going to say. If you miss it, you’ll be sad. Promise.

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