Aboriginal fans' viral Edmonton Oilers song rooted in centuries of tradition
'In our tradition, it's an honour to have songs made about you,' says singer and drummer
An aboriginal song about the NHL's newest superstar, now a viral sensation online, is rooted in traditions that date back many centuries.
"In our tradition, it's an honour to have songs made about you," said Robin Alexis, who helped perform a song about the Edmonton Oilers, and star rookie Connor McDavid, on Tuesday outside Rexall Place.
The drummer and singer belongs to a traditional music group from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, west of Edmonton. They performed their Oilers' song on the night when McDavid returned to the ice for the first time since November, following an injury.
"You've got to be a pretty important person to have songs," said Alexis. "Nobody made a song about me, and I've been singing for 35 years of my life."
Then he paused and laughed. "McDavid has a song, and I don't?"
Alexis said the group showed up Tuesday simply to support their favourite team.
"The only way we've survived all these years is, we support each other," he said. "In this case, we just want to support them by singing them a song."
The song hearkens back to the team's glory decade, when the Oilers, led by Wayne Gretzky, won four Stanley Cups in five years.
"Let's go back to the good old days, let's go back to the Gretzky days. Go, Oilers, go, you can do it. You've got Connor McDavid, Nuge, Ebs and Hall," they sing, referring to teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.
"It's so surreal to think so many people paid attention," Alexis said. "I didn't think anybody was going to care."
But people did care. The video of the song performance has already seen by hundreds of thousands on Facebook.
Alexis said the group is glad so many people liked the song. He's glad McDavid scored a goal Tuesday night and that the Oilers won the game.
There is, of course, another, very powerful reason for aboriginal singers and drummers to get together.
"I've noticed ever since I picked up a drum that it gives you strength," Alexis said. "It's something that your traditional ancestors have held for hundreds of years. In today's age, our kids, our grandchildren, are hockey players too. I think my brother made the song to inspire the kids to be proud of who they are."