Photo: Zac Whyte | Kumugwe Cultural Group, K’omoks Vancouver Island
Indigenous people have always gathered in celebration. While we are unable to gather physically this year, we can still connect in other ways. This year, to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, Indigenous Tourism BC is excited to host a virtual performance of Ḱa’niya, a song shared by the Joseph Family, that will connect the voices and spirits of Indigenous Peoples across BC.
Hereditary Chief Robert Joseph of Gwawaenuk First Nation admired the song by Herditary Chief Frank Nelson, a celebrated artist and composer from Musgamaqw-Dzawde’ anuxw Nation, who has since passed to the Spirit World. Discussions between the two men over time led to an agreement following Indigenous Intellectual Property protocols and transferred song ownership to the Joseph Family. The song was acquired in an exchange of value, connection, and honour between two parties. The Joseph family owns Ḱa’niya and is responsible for the integrity of the song’s use and purpose. Chief Robert Joseph’s granddaughter, Stephanie Thompson, now carries the song on behalf of her family, and singing Ḱa’niya beyond this occasion requires her permission.
Ḱa’niya tells a creation story of a thunderbird so mighty that it shook Kwe (Mount Stephens) as it descended to sea level, shedding its feathers and becoming the first man of his clan. The beautiful song conveys meaning through translatable words and other untranslatable elements known as vocables. When we sing or listen, our role is to bear witness and receive the song’s gift. We honour the gift with active gratitude, an open heart and honest response, and an intention to connect with the purpose of the song and all who sing it.
When we come together to sing or hear Ḱa’niya, we respect protocol by holding its story in our hearts and embodying its message of celebration, spirit, and power. Together, we feel the ground shaking power of the thunderbird’s freedom, flight, and transformation into the first man in this creation story.
We raise our hands to the Joseph family for sharing Ḱa’niya with all of British Columbia at Indigenous Tourism BC’s 2020 Virtual Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration. We raise our hands to all who share their voices with us as we celebrate the brilliance and resilience of Indigenous Peoples across British Columbia and Canada.
This song is owned by the Joseph Family and carried by Kwin (Stephanie) Thompson. This song follows Indigenous Intellectual Property Protocols and permission to sing it has been given for the purpose of Indigenous Tourism BC’s 2020 Virtual Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration. Singing this song beyond this occasion will require further permissions granted by Kwin. We raise our hands to the Joseph family for sharing it with us.
Learn more about Kaniya, its history and the legend it speaks of with Chief Dr. Robert Joseph as he gives its backstory and the story of how his family acquired the song and now shares it with Indigenous Tourism BC for use in celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day.