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IsKwé Refuses to Back Down on “Healers”

"I believe reconciliation starts after our stories have been shared."
Photo by Lisa MacIntosh

On her newest track, "Healers," Hamilton-by-way-of-Winnipeg's IsKwé cuts to the chase: she isn't, nor are any Indigenous people, backing down. One of Canada's many false narratives is that we have immunity from broader, historically reverberating moves like racism and genocide. Over the years, though, that narrative has been constantly dismantled because Canada does not, in fact, treat First Nation, Inuit, and Métis people with the respect they deserve. Their lands are occupied by colonists and their rights are treated as special privileges designated by their settlers.


IsKwé (pronounced iss-kway) uses a simple, profound sounding drumbeat on "Healers" that function as a call to action of sorts. The Cree/Dene electronic, trip-hop artist uses lyrics like, "this nation want us to blend into one face" and "we stand strong in our homeland," and her words come across as a sonic manifesto. As powerful as it sounds, it is also earnest in its call, especially to younger generations, to be resilient in the face of extreme tension between themselves and this nation.

"The sound of the big drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth, which pulses through each of us every day. This is a song about strength, unity and caring for our future generations—we have to take care of each other, encourage one another, remembering where we came from as we continue to walk forward," IsKwé told Noisey in an email. "This was the first song I wrote for my upcoming album, The Fight Within, and I wrote it from a place of permanence. I want people to know that we are here to stay, that we are strong and resilient, forgiving and brave. I want the big drum to resonate in people's hearts while they listen to our stories because I believe reconciliation starts AFTER our stories have been shared."

"We know what happened to our people over the last few hundred years. We know why our communities are in a state of hurt and healing. It's time for everyone else to understand as well, so that collectively we can be strong—all of our children will be better off that way."

Listen to the track below: