“My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
For Melissa St. Goddard, this quote couldn’t speak any more trust. St. Goddard, 22 years-old, has been playing the fiddle since the age of 13. Her uncle, Mark Morriseau, a well-respected Métis fiddler got St. Goddard interested in learning more about it, along with her sisters.
The instrument is a source of pride for her not only as an individual but for the Métis people as a whole.
“It’s weird to think the Métis went from not being able to express our culture, and now it’s such a huge market,” she said. “There’s so many Métis festivals and events. It’s amazing. Louis Riel sure was right and I’m glad I get to be a part of it.”
St. Goddard has been able to travel all over western Canada to perform Métis music with many different artists. In 2009 her, some other musicisians and a Métis dance group flew to Vancouver and travelled back to Manitoba on the road, performing in every province along the way.
The tour, called Take the Fort, was used to showcase St. Goddard’s culture and talents.
St. Goddard is glad to help impact people on the road, but she’s most proud to do it at home. She now teaches fiddle lessons to children in her home town of Portage La Prairie.
“I get to introduce them to the music and pass the culture down,” she said. “I know that when I’m old I want to be able to go listen to Métis music so we need to start teaching the kids to play.”
St. Goddard described Métis music as a mix of improvisation, country and community. She explained that it has to do more about the rhythm rather than precision. The point of her culture’s music is to get people together and celebrate, exactly what Louis Riel wanted his people to do.
“There was a day when it was illegal for the Métis to play fiddle music and jig, or express our culture in any way so doing it now is a way to express our freedom. We can show the people how awesome we are,” St. Goddard said with a grin.
On a personal note, I learned a lot from St. Goddard. It’s always assumed that the Métis take great pride in their music and culture, but to actually sit and talk to someone within it broadens your idea of it so much more.
Watch St. Goddard and her family jam during their Easter celebration: