Wednesday 30 June 2021

Unmarked graves of children: suppression of The Marieval Indians


**Today I heard two desperately sad, separate stories of the deliberate suppression and persecution of a racial kind by British imperialism

 The first was in Canada, once a British colony. Imperial policies, begun in Ireland and Scotland, led to the destruction of indigenous peoples way of life – their laws, culture, history and language. Reading history of the late 16th century and the Tudor expansionism, followed by James Stuart (I & VI) who believed in bringing the British isles together in a united religion and culture. That didn’t work!


In Canada 751 unmarked graves of children have been found beside a Catholic run residential school and are part of Canada’s cultural genocide

An indigenous nations in Canada has found graves at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan. The Cowessess First Nation said the discovery was "the most significantly substantial to date in Canada". It comes weeks after the remains of 215 children were found at another school in British Columbia. The Marieval Indian Residential School was operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1863 to 1997 


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "terribly saddened" by the discovery . "a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that Indigenous peoples have faced". 130 boarding schools funded by the Canadian government during the 19th and 20th Centuries, were run with the aim of assimilating indigenous youth. An estimated 6,000 children died in these schools, due to the squalid conditions. Chief Delorme said. Technical teams will now work to provide a verified number and identify the remains, 


More than 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in these schools throughout Canada. The children were not allowed to speak their language or to practice their culture, and many were mistreated and abused. 

"They made us believe we didn't have souls," said former residential school student Florence Sparvier at a press conference on Thursday. "They were putting us down as people, so we learned to not like who we were." 

II   The second story was the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947, when 17 million people were displaced and I million died – after 200 years of British rule. I watched a program by on this partition presented by Gurinda Chadha: before partition Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims lived together peacefully ad in Delhi there are mosques,  The British government in India followed the deliberate policies of divide and rule. They employed Sikhs as their military to do their dirty work. So before India’s independence, the Indian leaders all encouraged religious division in order to advance their own political advantage. At this time some believed that some races were superior to others.

Indian partition 17 million people were displaced and I million died


Then there is the partition of Ireland, which is a story in itself! The Normans who settled Ireland, after 1066, assimilated into the Irish culture and for a long time only the Pale was under English control (area around Dublin). The problems began with the Tudor expansion, first under Henry VIII and then under Elizabeth, which led to the 9 years war (1594- 1603) and the flight of the Earls from Ulster – and afterwards the Plantation of the north – alongside the suppression of Irish laws, language and culture. Henry VIII was a bully and tyrant and appears to be upheld up as a model English hero. It’s a sad day that Brexit and the Irish sea border and the Northern Ireland protocol is now causing all these tensions to resurface. 

And in Scotland - Since the enforced Highland clearances, to bring sheep grazing, deer stalking and grouse shooting estates for the Victorian elite - who saw Scotland as empty moorlands and glens for their holiday retreats – there has been deliberate policies of exploitation and the destruction of Scotland economic life. Kilts and Scots language were banned. The Scottish highlands and islands are the most depopulated areas in Europe - with desolate glens and only 4% natural forests, which compares to 37% average for forests in Europe. the rewilding Scotland is a crucial project. We need people to return.


All this led to centuries of emigration, exploitations, violence, bloodshed. In recent times in the EU has led to peace and prosperity across Europe and in Ireland. Religion should not be part of government or schools, but a private matter. 

I used to believe that religions were a cause of divisions – but I begin to wonder now is it ignorant, ambitious leaders who exploit and exaggerate difference for their own political gains? Brexit was led by the blaming and dislike for the ‘other’.


Imperial policies, begun in Ireland by Henry Tudor, and later the Highland and Lowland clearances, lled to the destruction of indigenous peoples way of life across the world and their laws, culture, history and language. Reading history of the late 16th century and the Tudor expansionism, followed by James Stuart (I & VI) who believed in bringing the British isles together in a united religion and culture. That didn’t work!

The time for empire and imperialism has now past. More and more, culturally we are recognising the rights of equality and difference .... I hope. In fact difference and debate are necessary for democracy. We are also recognising the dreadful crimes of the African slave trade. 

MUSIC and creative industries badly effected by Brexit & Covid

Attending live concerts is so important to many of us – nothing beats the thrill, togetherness, emotional releases and well-being of an excellent, engrossing concerts -  either the energetic large stadium, music festival or the intimacy of the characterful smaller venues.

I’m very concerned, as are many others, over the destruction of many of our crucial industries due to this foolhardy and reckless Brexit. The Creative industries and music is a massive industry for the UK, and this is all a disaster. 

Brexit failings

The EU is by far the biggest touring market in the world–  in 2019 - with EU 20K tour dates, America 5K, and other countries much fewer. Plus it costs a fortune to tour say Australia with a much smaller population 


To tour the EU after Brexit now requires - Visa regulation and lots of red tape, instruments, lighting, sound equipment, rules on transportation, And only 3 stops in the EU!!  All the uncertainty now for mid-tier artists makes touring practically unviable, and there are no crews or tour managers. Devastating for artists. 


On top of the destructive Brexit there have also been the Covid restrictions on us all. However Covid Insurance won’t cover festivals or musicians. There is a Covid relief fund – and Festivals have been offered 35 million.


Sadly many artists are now quitting and leaving the industry. 

Among my hopes are that we might be able to return to the EU single market and customs union. Apart form our crucial cultural, economic and scientific connections the biggest benefit the EU has brought is “peace and prosperity”! 


I’m excited to have two concerts now booked for August – its 18months since my last concert at Celtic connections 2020!  - Tideines 8th August,Edinburgh Festival 2021 and Chrissie Hynde 24th August, Queens Hall Edinburgh!



Piping Live!


Piping Live is a major Scottish piping festival.



A week long celebration of piping culture with everything from traditional Piobaireachd to contemporary bands all lined up to represent the international world of Piping.

The week culminates in the World Pipe Band Championships organised by Glasgow Life on behalf of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.

So if you love piping, or are completely new to the pipes there is something for everyone at Piping Live! 


Other artists appearing are the ever popular Manran, and Mairearad and Anna.



Is Scotland a nation or Region? Radio Six Music

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a Radio Six Music program– ‘Cerys Matthews – A Birthday Tribute to Bob Dylan’ to celebrate his 80thbirthday. She was having a chat with one of Dylan’s legion of serious music fans. They were discussing the influence of British or Anglo-folk on Dylan’s music. Mathews asked whether Irish folk had a major influence on Dylan’s music. The fan replied, well apart from being close with the Clancy Brothers during their time in Greenwich village, not so much but,….. that Scottish folk music…

Matthews interrupted and stopped him twice and then said, “Oh we can't single out one region of the UK for particular attention.”

It took me aback and I thought, clearly those in England view Scotland as a region, merely due equal attention of other regions of England – say Yorkshire or Northumberland – and not a nation or country in its own right. A region of England? This is truly shocking and clearly politically driven.

Matthews must be unaware that Scotland is in fact the oldest nation in Europe with centuries of history, trade, inventions, kings, ballads, traditions, song, culture, and leading writers, scholars, Scottish 17th century enlightenment and philosophers. The Scots have contributed a great deal to the world.

And Scots do not feel English or even British in any sense – so how exactly are we a region of England/ Britain? Scotland’s Law, language and culture have been supressed for centuries. But since the union 1707 poets, artists, writers and musicians fought back to keep the Scots traditions going.

Back last century Scotland was very much treated as North Britain. Perhaps this all used to work once, during empire, but not anymore. Perhaps (?) there was once more equality between the UK nations, but not anymore. So is England south Britain?

I was keen to hear the influence of Scottish folk on Dylan: although I know he named Robert Burns love song ‘Red Red Rose. as the poem that influenced him most. Burns was also a song collector, as Dylan is, and he took the traditional Scots ballads and adapted and wrote new verses for them. And on the topic of Robert Burns – he was NOT an illiterate, drunken womaniser – but while a poor tenant farmer’s son, he was highly read and educated.

I would prefer to see more respect and consideration shown by the BBC to the OTHER 3 nations that are part of the British Isles – so we can all enjoy a healthier democracy and a more grown up partnership. Surely in the modern age it is time for this?

On the other hand its become clear to most Scots that the BBC does not represent us and never will. (With Indy we must set up – Scots media, trade links, currency, central bank) This is the ultimate question for us now – is Scotland a region or a nation? 

50th Anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album



Hard to believe, where does time go! I have to name Joni and this album as probably my biggest musical influence, how I’d love to have seen her live!


First she colours her words with such vivid and honest imagery – with shades not only of blue but every other colour in-between.  

 I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints, 


 I’d play her Both Sides Now on piano. There are only a few albums you come back to over and over – where the songs linger and pull you back.  

So I grew up on Joni Mitchell.  Her Voice. Well actually I first learnt to play and sing the stage musicals and Burns songs.  I can't remember when I first heard Joni's pure and touching voice but her personal and intimate songs became ingrained in my head, in particular Both Sides Now. 

Her dreams and passion took me skyward when I was young and the sands of time stood still for those moments. She sang of her sorrows and offered us a voice. Most memorable was her pure soaring voice. She wrote of loss, of heartache and love with more creative insights than I'd heard before.  I remember the deep blue colours on her 'Blue' album sleeve. I bought the sheet music and played it often. Like Dylan some of her lyrics are so true we never forget them.  For me Joni is at her best when her songs are lost in those confessional deeply felt emotions.  





A bit late - my favourite Dylan songs - Visions of Joanna, If not for You, Make you Feel my Love, Tangled up in Blue, Tambourine Man. So many questioning, ironic, layered, story telling songs. Thanks Bob. Good to be alive in the times of our Bard.


.. oh yes things have changed alright...