COLUMN: Kevin Joseph — Jan. 24, 2014

Kevin
Kevin Joseph
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I’m not going to lie. It still freaks me out being a columnist. I was the kid who hid behind his text book whenever the teacher asked the class for answers. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answer; it was that I didn’t like being the center of attention even if it was just for a few seconds.  

My dad had thought he would try me out in hockey. We have a home video taken when I was about two years old. Dad had bought me a helmet, a mini stick and an orange road hockey puck to get a feel for the game. You can hear his voice saying “hit it my boy.” So I began to hit myself on the head with the stick.

Why else would I need a helmet?

“Not like that!” he laughed, “The puck!” So I picked up the puck and hit myself on the head with it.

Rather than continuing on with the hockey lessons my parents put me in music. This was what I wanted. They paid for lessons. They bought instruments. They drove me to lessons. But most importantly, they supported my dreams. My dad never really raised his voice at me but he would stop everything he did if I ever said “I can’t”.

When I was about nine years old I watched the Juno Awards and saw a band who became idols to me, Errol Ranville and the C-weed Band.  

I was at that age where I began to understand that although I seen myself as just a kid, others saw me as an Indian first and a kid second. I never saw any brown-skinned people on TV.

Yet here was a long-haired Métis band from Manitoba at the highest level of the Canadian music industry.

Around that same time I remember doing a report for school on China. People always ask “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” For me it was always China.

In 2004, I found myself as Errol Ranville’s roommate in Beijing.

I had been part of the C-weed Band for about three years before we were invited to be a part of the Nanning International Folk Song Art Festival. Thirty-two countries were involved in the two-week event that had us performing 12 shows across southeast China to crowds of 3,000-75,000. I don’t need to go into details other than to say that two of my dreams had been realized. And for that I thank my parents for encouraging me to dream and for supporting me from day one.

For you parents who are reading this I’m sure you are supporting your children as well. You know your kids better than anyone. You talk with them. You listen to them. You wipe their tears. You read to them. You tuck them in. You educate them. You nurse them back to health when they are ill. You make them feel safe.

You support them so they know that they can become anything they want in life.

Those kids who went to residential schools lost this. Not only were they taken away from those parents who would support them in making their dreams a reality, they were placed in a world which was foreign. A world where they were taught that the best they could hope for is to be more European. A world that taught them to be ashamed of where they came from. A couple generations of dreams were lost.

But dreams don’t die. They live on in our children.

I would like to invite all of you to see the future with me on Feb. 15. I am a mentor for the Northern Spirits program. This show is staged entirely by northern youth. From the emcee, to the back up band, the singers, the set designers and the stagehands, they are all under the age of 18. They have all worked hard to earn their place. They had a dream. They went after it. They achieved it. None of them may ever a career in music but they will all continue to believe in their dreams. They will have their annual showcase on the afternoon of the 15th at the Prince Albert Exhibition Center.

For any young people who may be reading this, when it comes to dreams I would tell them to have lots. And to never stop.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my words. You can email me at kevjoseph@gmail.com. If you make it out to Northern Spirits, or the Voices of the North show which is held from Feb. 13-15 also at the Exhibition Center, don’t be afraid to come say hi. I’ll be the guy with the bass guitar.

      

Kevin Joseph is a Prince Albert freelance writer. His column appears every fourth Friday in rotation with Jessica Iron Joseph, Sharon Thomas and Lori Q. McGavin.

Organizations: Prince Albert Exhibition Center, Prince Albert

Geographic location: China, Manitoba, Beijing Nanning

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