June 25, 2017
Two accomplished Indigenous artists are making a difference through their music across Canada.
Jaaji (pronounced Yaayi) and Chelsey June carried their positive message to the Indigenous Arts Festival in Toronto as they share their personal experiences with the audience through their music and empower anyone in their community to stay strong and never let the historical injustices take them down.
The duo does not profess to be psychiatrists, but empowering indigenous youth with positive music at a time when suicide and attempted suicide is enveloping the young ones is a mission they have embarked on.
They believe through their music and lyrics, they have a channel to get to some members of their community who are vulnerable to stay positive and get professional help when needed.
Jaaji an Inuk Mohawk from Nunavik, a former policeman with 12 years experience and Chelsey June, an Algonquin Cree Métis Woman from Ottawa are the Twin Flames.
In an interview with Mosaic Edition at the end of their set at the festival they talked about their music and the reasoning behind their positive messages and motivating lyrics.
Jaaji brings the true-life experience as a former policeman working with the youth and having knowledge of their struggles.
The Twin Flames wants to let any member of the community experiencing a tough time know that they are not alone.
The intention of the Twin Flames messaging “is to let people know whatever the situation one is dealing with even if it gets hard, it gets easier,” said Jaaji.
“We see a lot of communities suffering with suicide, violence and drugs and alcoholic abuse,” said the former policeman.
He tried to help a lot while in the police uniform. In the four years that the Twin Flames have been doing music the duo have broadened their outreach to various communities across Canada.
They go to schools, hold workshops, for all ages in Inuktitut and French. The Twin Flames have in addition received positive feedback from those who listened to their lyrics.
For anyone not used to the music of the Twin Flames or meeting the group for the first time, Chelsey June explained “we just try to prove that we are all human, it doesn’t matter what language we are singing in, what race we are, what religion we practice.”
“Music can bring everybody together in one place. It has this power to heal.
“Through our music we always try to have morals and hope of healing and inspirational stories.”
She said life is not always easy and it is not possible to be happy 24/7.
On reconciliation and understanding the history of the Indigenous community, Chelsey June stated, “ it is a progress and you know everything is happening, and in Canada we are very lucky.”
“A lot will still complain of how far we have come. I think that we are trying as a people and as a nation. We are a proof of that. Our music is played on the mainstream media and accepted every day which is a testament to the acceptance of the community everyday.”
Jaaji added that one can continue to complain about the things that have happened but at the end of the day “we are in control of who we are, what we do, we got to stop blaming, got to stop acting out just because we are put in a corner.”
“We have to decide to do something ourselves and move on.
“There is a lot of hate today, there is a lot of anger, we realise that but we ourselves have to do something about it.
“We can’t keep on relying on somebody else to do this for the community.
“At the end of the day if people hold on to the past the community is finished.”
The ex-policeman said everybody has a role to play and as long as everybody does their own path, things will be better.
Chelsey June added, “It is always easier to blame other people and fall into substance abuse and negative life patterns.”
“I think individuals have to be accountable,” she said.
“Horrible things have happened to our people and continue to happen to our people but there has to be a point one should reach out and say I need help or I need to make a difference in my own life and one person making that choice hopefully will create a domino effect across the community where families are beginning to heal, children are beginning to heal.”
Chelsey June brings her past experiences of working with youth as a mentor, mentoring to pregnant teens and coaching individuals who have drug and alcohol dependencies into her message of empowerment through the Twin Flames.
Chelsey shared her travel experience to the Arctic. She remembered the strong winds of the Arctic that blew across the area since there were no trees or strong structures on its path.
She included this experience in one of her songs. “The weather is the boss up there,” she said.
The prophetic strong wind blew across the festival grounds during the performance of the song Wind of Change.
As the interview ended Jaaji advised anyone watching the video to “keep an open mind. I think people start to grow up inside the box they create. There is a huge world out there and there are lots of different people but at the end of the day we are all the same.”
“At the end of the day when you are all fighting the same battle together for the greater good it is much easier.”
As we drew the curtain on the interview, Chelsey gave some words of advice. “Always leave a positive foot print in every thing that you do. You have the power as an individual, as a person to always leave a positive foot print anywhere you go.”
The custom jewelries of Jaaji and Chelsey are significant. Chelsey was wearing a pair of earrings with a design of noose antlers and eagle feathers.
Chelsey’s spirit name is Golden Eagle Woman.
Jaaji on his part was wearing custom jewelries reflecting his culture. He wore a pendant of an American 5 cent coin. Only about 500 of the coins were made in the early 1900. It has a buffalo image upside down.
Jaaji and Chelsey June as the Twin Flames have played over 500 shows in less than two years across Canada.
They released their joint album Twin Flames Jaaji and Chelsey June December 1, 2015.
Their debut album reached the top of the music charts with their song Porchlight reaching #1 on the Aboriginal Music Countdown.
Jaaji and Chelsey June do not claim to be professional in mental health. Anyone experiencing crisis in the Indigenous community is asked to contact the Help Line -1-800-265-3333(Inuktitut, English), Residential School Crisis Line – 1-866-925-4419(Inuktitut, English, French), Kids Help Phone- 1-800-668-6868 and the 1-866-APPELLE in Quebec (French).