What does Buffy Sainte-Marie believe?

Buffy Sainte-Marie is usually asked about her career in music, her Academy Award and her life as an activist. But what does she believe in? In this episode, Buffy Sainte-Marie enters the Tapestry zone and opens up about her worldview, her spirituality, and the life philosophy at the heart of her music.

What does Buffy Sainte-Marie believe?

7 years ago
Duration 0:49
What does Buffy Sainte-Marie believe?

Originally published on Dec. 30, 2016.

Buffy Sainte-Marie (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)

What if well-known people were asked a deeper, different kind of question? What if the red-carpet query weren't "Who are you wearing?", but "Do you believe the universe has a purpose?"

Buffy Sainte-Marie is usually asked about a lot of other stuff: her career in music, her Academy Award and her life as an activist.

But what does Buffy Sainte-Marie believe in?

"To me there's a spirituality to everything," says the songwriter, whose resume includes degrees in Asian Philosophy and Fine Arts. Her other honours include two Junos, the Polaris Music Prize, a Golden Globe award, and over a dozen honorary doctorates.

Buffy Sainte-Marie has had it all her life: deep sense of meaning and belief in a Creator.

Her Cree heritage and ties to the Baha'i religion make for a fascinating take on spirituality - while her life as a recording artist has convinced her there's a strong link between the sublime and creativity.

"If we're made in the image of the Creator, what that means to me is that we're creative. That's our green light for creativity. And the purpose and the sum total of our lives has to do with our creativity."

Folk singer and Cree activist Buffy Sainte-Marie spoke at a mass rally of aboriginal people in Edmonton on November 19, 1981 urging people to continue their fight. Sainte-Marie advised indigenous children to look at the elders because they have "been fighting for rights all their lives just to get you where you are today". (CP PHOTO/Dave Buston) (Canadian Press)

That impulse to create is at the heart of her activism. Buffy Sainte-Marie has spent decades fighting for aboriginal rights and dignity.

She says she doesn't like to dwell in a down-hearted place. 

"I don't like to despair. It's uncomfortable. It kind of hurts to despair. So instead of despairing, I try to do things about it."

Buffy Sainte-Marie believes that we are always evolving - mutating, ripening, becoming - and that idea is the foundation of her 'forgiving' approach to life.

"As each of us learns and ripens, we affect everything around ourselves. I believe it's true even for the guys we love to hate. Pick someone you don't like... even that person is ripening." 

Instead of attacking another person's beliefs, Buffy Sainte-Marie says she tries to model something else they could fall in love with and believe in.

When asked what she would model to someone fixated on greed and material wealth, the singer pointed to two songs from her award-winning record Power in the Blood: We Are Circling and Carry It On.

Both songs encapsulate her personal philosophy on life.