• helene@helenemontpetit.ca

Littlemountain Music

Littlemountain Music

Suite pour Florian

Florian Montpetit

I grew up in Quebec with a French father and an English mother during what I refer to as the not-so-quiet revolution. Why “not-so-quiet”? The rumblings of racism and intolerance were at times vociferous and their poisonous, divisive effects always deeply felt. My nationalist uncle was less than kind to my mother, which eventually caused a serious rift in the family. Some of my school friends were jailed during the October Crisis. I once had to shield my children from a mob that had gathered at the bottom of our street during the Oka Crisis. In the late sixties and early seventies, long before the advent of Truth and Reconciliation, my father dreamt of holding a big party on Parliament Hill to bring together First Nations, French and English Canadians. He would have been very proud if he had lived to see them lift their voices in unison to demand clean water for Indigenous communities, investigations into the disappearance of native women, and the abandonment of the Coastal GasLink pipeline defacing Wet’suwet’en Nation land. This suite was composed to honour my father’s vision and idealism.


Who

We know little about the spirit or soul that makes each of us unique. Where does it come from? Where does it go when we die? Our minds like to think they can make sense of things. Our hearts are disturbed by the finality of death. We lean on religions, philosophies, and myths, believing they explain these great mysteries. Confronted with the COVID pandemic, more frequent and devastating climate emergencies, interminable wars, and the increasing disparity between the haves and the have-nots, we are forced to reexamine our assumptions. The lifestyle considered normal in the western world no longer makes sense. Global interconnections make it impossible to continue ignoring its effect on the displaced, and hungry. As more of us search for different answers and look at the world differently, a new way of being is taking shape based on the understanding that we are not “on” the Earth. We are of it.


When My Heart Is Healed

Opening one’s heart blindly sometimes results in rude awakenings. In the aftermath of a particularly harsh breakup, I was blessed to have the support of friends and musicians who helped me carry on writing, performing and recording my music. I am forever grateful to Suzanne Ungar, Mario Starnino, Chris Crilly, Geoff Mitchell, and David Gossage for bringing their artistry to this recording. My thanks as well to my teacher and good friend Barbara Lewis for recording her own version of the song.


Poppa’s Wisdom

Bevan Skerrat

The beautiful presence in this photograph belonged to Bevan Skerrat, who, in his inimitable way, guided me to greater awareness. With him, I examined my history, failings and gifts, and learned to walk more carefully and lightly on the earth. There is no quick and easy way to sum up the man or his accomplishments. He was a singer-songwriter-performer, activist, healer, counselor, medicine man and spiritual father to many. I often think of him as the Don Juan to my Carlos Castaneda.

I hope this song conveys some of the love, frustration, humour and wisdom experienced during our time together. My thanks to Suzanne Ungar (bass), Chris Crilly (fiddle and accordion), and Geoff Mitchell (recording engineer) for their invaluable contributions to the tune. And to Radio Cow Person Bevan, who was born in Big Sky Country and has now returned to the Great Mystery: thanks for infusing a little country twang into my life.

 


Gentle Giants

Algonquin Elder William Commanda, founder of the Circle of Nations.

My mother raised her six children on sayings and proverbs, one of which was “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Having been invited by Bevan to sing at a gathering of Indigenous people, I was dumbfounded when he came up during the first verse of my first song and whispered I had to immediately stop singing and leave the stage. I was not permitted to take proper leave. No explanation was given. Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq must have seen my spirit leave this plane to get away from the shame and pain the incident had caused me. Firekeeper at the time, he called me to his side and asked if I would pray with him. He said he had felt cut when the song was stilled, asked to be made whole again and threw tobacco on the flames. Then he placed his sacred drum near my body and drummed me back to earth. The following day,  Elder William Commanda, founder of A Circle of All Nations, spoke and helped lift me out of despondency. Weeks later, Bevan told me that the gathering was beset by more disturbing events after I left. It isn’t always easy to hold fast to our values when we are tested. This song pays homage to those who, powerful as they may be, choose to live as examples of peace and inclusion.


Dig Down

It takes courage to look at ourselves honestly without embellishing our actions or excusing them because they may be motivated by good intentions. Dig Down speaks of facing our devilishly cunning uglier side to become aware of behaviours that poison our existence. Special thanks to Chris Crilly, whose smoking hot violin solo lifts the song to a higher level.


 

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