MONASTERY: A teacher at a local school has released a new single with a healing message.
East Antigonish Education Centre teacher Buffy Boutilier recently released a new single called “Somebody Pray.”
“I actually wrote the song in January,” Boutilier said. “It was slow because of COVID, trying to get people together because the producer is based out of New Brunswick. There were musicians involved from around the country, around the world.”
Boutilier said the lyrics “came pouring out as I reflected on the many people in my life who have been affected personally by Canada’s Indian residential schools.”
“It’s kind of my own response. I don’t have those experiences. I’m kind of looking at it through a different perspective. This is something I wanted to do to get the message out there and educate people if I can, and address something that’s really terrible,” she said. “It’s some source of healing or education.”
A big source of inspiration came from the late Isabelle Knockwood who wrote a book about her experience at the Shubenacdie Indian Residential School.
“Before she passed, she had asked me, ‘don’t forget the stories that I’m telling you.’ And I told her, ‘I promise, I’ll remember,’” Boutilier recalled. “So it always stuck in my mind that eventually I want to write a piece of music about it. With the pandemic and everything going on I had some time to try to get some writing done this winter.”
The Isle Madame native said guitar player Bill Dillon – who played with Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and the Barenaked Ladies – was involved in the creation of the track, as well as Kim Dunn on piano, Martin Neil on drums, and on rhythm guitar, Josh McKinley.
Boutilier said the single is part of the Somebody Pray Project that began in January 2021 when Boutilier said she was envisioning ways to support the health and well-being of Indigenous youth in Canada.
The Purpose of the Somebody Pray Project is to support the creation of a youth care and advocacy centre in the community of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, she said.
“I collaborated with friends of mine from all over North America and globally. We put a GoFundMe together, they’ve been helping me with web sites; all this stuff, people just stepped up,” Boutilier said. “I spoke to my kids at school and when we talk about residential schools and the history of colonialism, those type of things, what can we do for your community that you think it needs? They talked and it seemed like a safe space for youth was the general idea.”
Boutilier spoke with Dr. Benita Bunjun, in the Social Justice Department at Saint Mary’s University, and they decided to release the single, then work on an album with proceeds to the community.
“From this single here, the proceeds from the sale goes back to Paqtnkek,” she noted. “We’re trying to do it in phases. The GoFundMe is to finish the album, and anything that’s donated above and beyond, goes back to the community. If I can finish the album, then I’ll donate money from those sales to the community as well.”
Boutilier added that their focus now is to get the single out, raise awareness, then work on the album, and over the next few years, to see the facility constructed.
“The money is going back to Indigenous youth,” she added. “If the song is about Indigenous children, the money is going back to Indigenous children.”
For more information check out Boutilier’s web site: buffymacneil.com.