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Tragically Hip tribute band from Moose Factory translates lyrics into Cree

A Tragically Hip tribute band from the Moose Cree First Nation on the James Bay coast is incorporating Cree into the lyrics of a couple of iconic Hip songs.

Incorporating Cree into The Hip's lyrics strengthens relationship Gord Downie had with Indigenous people

Clint Hamilton, Ryan Morrison, Vic Linklater, Jon Kapashesit and Paul Chakasim are The Poets. The Tragically Hip tribute band is translating lyrics into Cree. (Supplied by Vic Linklater)

A Tragically Hip tribute band from the Moose Cree First Nation on the James Bay coast is incorporating Cree into the lyrics of a couple of iconic Hip songs.

The band called The Poets got together last summer in Moose Factory at a local music festival called The Gathering of Our People..

"We tried to emulate the guitars and the drums and the vocals as close as possible to The Tragically Hip, just out of respect and out of enjoyment of the band," said frontman Vic Linklater from The Poets.

Linklater sees The Hip as being synonymous with Canadians and as an extension of Canadiana throughout the country.

He says that incorporating Cree into the song lyrics is a way to strengthen the relationship Gord Downie had with the people of Moose Cree First Nation.

"He used to make his journeys up here quite often over the last 20 years . . . and we just want to draw that connection to him through the language," said Linklater. "I know [he had] a vast and enormous respect for the Indigenous people," he added.

Linklater met Gord Downie a few times and calls him "a super nice guy." 

"It's special to be able to honour the man who pushed Indigenous issues to the forefront. We will try our best to continue that," said Linklater.

The Poets are looking at translating two Tragically Hip songs in particular — Ahead By A Century and Fiddler's Green. Linklater has been asking local elders to help with the translation of the lyrics.

"It's kind of like an audio translation as opposed to a text and it's much more meaningful that way," said Linklater. 

Linklater says that translating the lyrics of The Hip's songs makes The Poets stand out from other bands.

"We are Indigenous and we like to bring that forth in this day and age of reconciliation and the whole push towards striking better relationships between Indigenous peoples and Canadians across the country," he said. 

Linklater says it's going to be rewarding to put his language in the spotlight on stage in front of non-Indigenous crowds.

The Poets are playing tonight, Saturday, Dec. 14, at The Surge Sports Lounge in Timmins.

A tribute band from the James Bay Coast is working on translating iconic songs by The Tragically Hip into Cree. The band, called The Poets, formed last year in Moose Cree First Nation. Musician Vic Linklater explains how the band came together and how they translate songs into Cree. 6:18

With files from Waubgeshig Rice

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