Saskatchewan·Future 40

'Recognizing the power we have': Lindsay Knight talks all-female hip hop project, PhD and motherhood

Since winning Future 40 in 2016, Lindsay Knight has been busy with new music, motherhood and exploring her Nehiyaw culture through academia.

CBC Future 40 winner Lindsay Knight dishes on new music, motherhood and academia

Lindsay Knight, also known as Eekwol, will be among the Saskatchewan performers at Winterruption. (@therealeekwol/Instagram)

Lindsay Knight isn't worried about proving anything to anyone, especially men in the hip hop industry.

The Saskatoon artist has stood on her own stage for years, creating and rapping poetry, spitting truth about the reality of being an Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan.

Knight's art form is intertwined with her Nehiyaw roots. Her resolve to explore and share it through her hip hop persona, Eekwol, is growing stronger.

Right now, she's pouring hours of time into the studio, finessing her all-female hip hop project, For Women By Women.

Lindsay Knight shared this teaser for her upcoming multimedia project, For Women By Women, through her Instagram account @therealeekwol, writing "01.12.18 The For Women By Women revolution is happening with fierce lyricists T-Rhyme and Eekwol." (@therealeekwol/Instagram)

"It's all about women in the hip hop industry," said Knight.

The multimedia project is a collaboration with Knight's friend and fellow rapper, T-Rhyme.

"The idea stemmed from just being in the hip hop industry for so many years. And, for being a woman. And, being Indigenous — and, a lot of the challenges that came up with that throughout the years," she said.

Lindsay Knight, aka Eekwol (second from left) poses with T-Rhyme (second from right) following a performance at 2018's Regina Folk Festival. The pair of Sask. rappers are collaborating on a new music project called For Women By Women. (Lindsay Eekwol Knight/Facebook)

"Instead of trying to fight against them, or challenge them, or try to be accepted within certain realms, we just sat down one day and said, 'that's enough, let's just focus on the way that we want to make music and create our art for ourselves and for our womenfolk, and those who identify as women.' So we did that." 

We all have power within us and that's something we're born with.- Lindsay Knight, aka Eekwol

Knight said the project was possible thanks to a grant from the Canada Council of the Arts. The money allows her to freely explore her creative vision without the worry of how it will be received and whether it'll make money.

Knight running a hip hop workshop for girls. (Lindsay Eekwol Knight/Facebook)

"We all have power within us and that's something we're born with," she said. "A lot of time with women, in general, we're not reminded of that throughout life. So a lot of times we try to keep up, be as good as men in the industry and, speaking in general terms, with hip hop it's very male-dominated."

For Women By Women is scheduled for release Dec. 1, 2018. Expect to see, hear and watch parts of it on social media, too. Knight said she hopes it will create a positive path into important conversations.

"Being aware of those challenges and not trying to accommodate but just recognizing the power we have as human beings," she said. "I'm not afraid to say what I want to say. But, it's also compassionate."

Empowerment is a guiding principle of Knight's work whether it's music, art, community activism, mentorship or academia.

"This cutie girl just did her first hip hop dance showcase with @def_sol Proudest momma moment! She’s a natural," wrote Knight in this May 2018 Instagram post. (@therealeekwol/Instagram)

"So, [it's] revolutionary in that sense," she said. "That it's opening doors to conversations about being women in the industry and Indigenous women in particular."

Knight describes mothering her daughter and son as one of her "biggest projects" and attributes a lot of her stamina to her daughter.

"I want her to have a safe place where she can be who she is without coming up against resistance," she said.

Knight said she sees a resurgence of Indigenous traditions and wisdom in her conversations about parenting. Whether it's the importance of midwifery or grassroots dreams of creating a Nehiyaw learning school, based on First Nation's ideas about land and law, Knight said it's "kind of cool to be part of that movement."

PhD plans

Knight said becoming a recipient of CBC Saskatchewan's Future 40 award in 2016 served as affirmation.

Eekwol perfoming in this 2012 photo. (Lindsay Eekwol Knight/Facebook)

"I try to live my life in a humble way and when I receive acknowledgement it really means a lot to me because I don't seek it," she said. "It reminds me the work I'm doing, and have been doing, means something to people. It encourages me to just keep doing it."

Stopping – or even just taking a break –​ isn't on Knight's radar. In September she begins work on her PhD, which will focus on Indigenous women in music, through the University of Saskatchewan Indigenous Studies college.

Anyone who is curious or who'd like to nerd out with Knight on the topic should know she's slated to teach an Indigenous Music class at the U of S in January.

Do you know someone who is a leader in our community, like Lindsay Knight? Nominate them to be a 2018 CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 here.

About the Author

Madeline Kotzer

@MadelineKotzer

Madeline Kotzer is an award-winning Saskatchewan journalist and Social Media News Editor/Presenter for CBC Saskatchewan and CBC Saskatoon.