Recently, Tragically Hip front man, Gord Downie passed away from brain cancer. Although I was never a big fan and do not own a single record of theirs, I always had a fondness for the Canadiana-laced lyrics in the Hip's songs. The group is composed of very talented musicians and I attribute its lack of penetration into the market south of the border to the esoteric nature of the Canuck culture in many of the songs.
That said, I was surprised when I recently learned that Downie took on an SJW role on behalf of oppressed Indians in this country. It appears he lashed out against his own country's treatment of Indians, not just in pioneer days, but in the last century as they relate to abuses in the Indian residential schools. I knew nothing about this political activism as I'm sure most of Downie's fans were also largely ignorant of this. As far as I know there is very little Indian content in his music. There is a reference to French explorer Jacques Cartier "not being the first to show" in one of the more famous songs by the band.
I was quite disappointed by what I saw in a montage of Downie in memoriam on the state broadcaster, the CBC. At one point in an interview he talks about Canada's 150th birthday with bitterness, and I paraphrase "well, there isn't much to be proud of in these last 150 years."In the same montage, the country's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, overcome with emotion at the singer's passing, states that Downie loved his country so much. I cannot reconcile these two segments.
How can a man, who states his country has little to be proud of—while being made many times a millionaire thanks to an almost-exclusively white fan base—be considered by the same country's leader as a great patriot?
That said, RIP Gord Downie. His music will live on, I'm sure.