Punk band takes aim at Canadian colonialism: The Brat Attack rages against racism.
Jammed-packed with fun and fast songs about the power of protest and punk culture, the record also contains a number of timely and sobering critiques of Canada's harmful colonial policies towards Indigenous peoples. In particular, the lyrics of Davey Zegarac --who is of Sioux and Cree ancestry--provide a bare-knuckle assessment of Indigenous peoples' experiences of racist discrimination in Canada that need desperately to be heard today. Building on the recent success of Indigenous musicians like Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red, The Brat Attack similarly use their art to highlight Indigenous issues and contribute to a decolonizing dialogue in Canada, but do so with quite a different kind of music: anti-colonial punk.
Two songs in particular showcase The Brat Attack's power and rage: "Dirty AIDS Filled Indians" and "Residential Schools." "Dirty AIDS Filled Indian" highlights the ongoing and painful effects of racism in Canada. In light of this winter's controversial Macleans magazine issue on racism in Canada, the song adds to the discussion and pulls no punches: "Fuck Canada and its apartheid, its cold-blooded attempt at genocide." The song points out the hypocrisy of the colonialist mentality, "They called us 'savages' as they murdered our children, 'uncivilized' as the beat and raped them." But Zegarac also eloquently explains the deliberateness of settlers' attempts at dehumanization: "They use words of hatred to break us down and try to make us feel less human. Prairie nigger, savage, half-breed, a dirty AIDS-filled Indian." Ultimately, though, he reminds listeners that these hateful racist slurs are "used by oppressors of a withering empire."
In "Residential Schools," the band turns to history to provide the necessary background for listeners to better understand contemporary Indigenous issues. The schools, of course, sought to disconnect Indigenous peoples from their lands and crush their cultures to pave the way for the creation of a new capitalist settler society. Indeed, Zegarac explains that the purpose of Canada's Indian Residential School system was "an eradication of a traditional, a spiritual way of life," which constitutes a brutality that must be understood by people today as "genocide" and "mass murder." Zegarac also notes that the government-funded and church-run "hellholes" went on to "inspire the racist, oppressive regime of the South Africans," a fact many Canadians do not know. But Zegarac's lyrics are not completely hopeless. Fie emphasizes Indigenous peoples' agency and ability to struggle and resist: "We fight for the giant turtle, we fight for the future, because if we will not fight, we wonder who will?" The song concludes: "We will never forget those lost, in their memory we demand justice in full." The Brat Attack thus highlights the intergenerational effects of residential schooling and the need to continue to fight against racist discrimination in Canada today.
... And They Called Us Savages adds important new sounds to the soundtrack of decolonization. The Brat Attack's anti-colonial punk-rock reminds listeners of the residual effects of racism in Canada generally as well as the need to confront discrimination against Indigenous peoples in particular.
You can listen to and purchase The Brat Attack's new record online: http://thebratattack.bandcamp. com/album/and-they-called-us-savages.
SEAN CARLETON (@SeanCarleton) is a member of the CD collective living in Peterborough, Ontario, Anishinaabe Territory.
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|Title Annotation:||All That's Left: THE POPULAR FRONT; album "And They Called Us Savages"|
|Date:||May 1, 2015|
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