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Shannon Thunderbird’s “lost and found” is inspired by children lost at residential school

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“Lost and Found” is the latest video off the album Walking Through the Fire by Sultans of String. Ts’msyen Elder Shannon Thunderbird wrote and sings the song. She is originally from the Pacific Northwest coast of British Columbia: Gilut’sau Band of the Royal House of Niis’gumiik, Gispudwada (Orca) Clan. The music is arranged and supported by Sultans of String and the epic strings of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

“On May 27, 2021, the bones of 215 Indigenous children were found in a mass grave on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC,” Shannon said. “I wrote ‘Lost and Found’ several days later to acknowledge the fact that, with tangible evidence, Canadians could no longer deny what we have been saying for over a century.”

“I wrote the song on June the 11, 2020.” Shannon continued. “By this time, the news had gone across Canada about the finding of the bones of our children from residential school horrors. And the first ones were from a residential school in Kamloops.”

Growing up, music came to Shannon naturally.

“I came out of the womb singing,” she said. “My mother was an opera singer, and because she was Ts’msyen, she was never really able to realize it, because we were talking about colonialist British Columbia. To have somebody in the grand arts who was an Indigenous person was just unheard of, so I was very fortunate. She had the most glorious voice, and I inherited part of it, and she instilled the love of music and singing in me.

“I am a songwriter, and this one came so fast that I just got up, I grabbed my phone, I threw it on record. And I sat on the side of the bed, and I sang it from beginning to end without stopping. And by this time, I barely got through it. I was in a lot of tears thinking about my grandmother, thinking about my mother, thinking about what happened to me. All of these things that came out of this horror that was done by the churches and the Canadian government.

“I find it immensely difficult sometimes to sing it because I am, along with my sister Kate, who sings the song with me on the album, an intergenerational residential school survivor. It came down through my grandmother to my mother, to me, and we’ve had our challenges. But I’m of an age now where one has a choice. You carry on or you don’t. What would our ancestors want us to do?

“It is brutal, and it’s real. And the sacrifice of these children, oh goodness. They won’t be forgotten. They can’t be. Innocents lost in the most heinous of ways.”

 

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