Fort Albany, ON

A big Canadian band played a unique show in a small northern Ontario reserve last night.

The Tragically Hip performed in Fort Albany as part of a celebration of Cree culture and education.

The band started with a song inspired by a favorite northern pastime — paddling a canoe on the open waters.

The Peetabek school gym was transformed for this rock concert, complete with stage, lights and a sound system. The band's gear was hauled up on the ice road.


The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie sings during a concert held Thursday in Fort Albany, Ont. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Lead singer Gord Downie, who has visited the James Bay Coast several times on fishing trips, said it's a part of the country he wishes more people would get to know.

"If Canada is any good at all then we are judged by how we treat our poorest and most vulnerable," Downie said. "These are strong communities up here. They don't need hand outs or anything like that."


People take in a Tragically Hip concert, which took place in Fort Albany Thursday evening. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The concert was part of the Great Moon Gathering, a Cree educational and cultural event.

Métis author Joseph Boyden was also there, hoping to counter act some of the negative attention brought on by the housing crisis in Attawapiskat.

"People don't often get to see the power and the beauty of these communities," Boyden said. "And so we have come up to help them show that."