Land Acknowledgement

Tkaronto/Toronto

We are grateful for the gift of being on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands.

 

Vancouver

“I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.”

 
Bismillah Raven white_edited_edited.jpg

Sherazad Jamal
Bismillah Raven

Acrylic on Paper
2002

The Project 

Individuals and families joined in a vocal arts offering, an artistic response that bears witness to the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children anonymously buried under a residential school in Kamloops, BC, and many more across the country. 


This project began as an idea proposed by Muslim Canadian artist, Hussein Janmohamed, who was deeply affected by this news but also by the recent devastating terrorist attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario. The methodical cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island, rising Islamophobia, systemic oppression of Black lives and communities of difference across our planet - this lament is for all.  It is meant to be a call to gather in unity, wholeness and healing.


This is a call to recognize, to bear witness, and to move forward across differences to make this a better world. Through joining our voices in solidarity in the spirit of pluralism which sees our human diversity as an asset, we hope that this project can spark healing, understanding, inclusion, and societal evolution. 


In developing this piece, Janmohamed reached out to his long-time colleague and collaborator, Lil'wat composer, Russell Wallace living in Vancouver, BC.  The final vision is a result of many consultations with artists, including from Indigenous, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Palestinian, LGTBQ, and Black communities. The work holds in vocal unity a community of emerging and elder voices - sounds of wisdom, hope and change. Janmohamed reached out to the Aga Khan Museum with the idea, who are facilitating, producing and sharing this work.


Together we put forward this artistic offering in a moment of solidarity that is both mournful and hopeful. We invite you, your families, friends and communities to join us by bearing witness to this work, to released on Canada Day - when we can reflect not only on what we are, what we have been, but most importantly, what we can become.

Artistic Statement

I am a South Asian Ismaili Muslim with East African histories working in a Western vocal art form called choral music. Singing in choirs profoundly helped me to transform negative impacts of racism into something positive. Reflecting on recent events and the continuous oppression of communities of difference in the world, I wondered how to respond musically. I didn’t have the words or melodies to know how. I also recognized the colonial histories of my art form that intentionally or not negates diversity, pluralism and inclusion. As a vocal and choral artist, how could I respond? 

The Quran calls us to care for one another, all our relations, because we all come from one soul and to one soul we shall return. We have a responsibility to come together and use our shared knowledge to make things better for each other. Sitting on the couch watching the news I caught a spark. It hit me like a wave.

I immediately called Russell, long time friend and musical collaborator from the Lil'wat nation. Through our abiding conversation a vision emerged: 215 voices singing one note together at 215 Hz.  He and I talked about how stripping away musical aspects that divided us and just singing one note could be a powerful moment of unity and healing. We discussed the duration of the note. Russell shared that there were 139 residential schools in Canada the last of which closed in 1996. We decided that the duration of the one note should be 139 seconds. 

At the heart, we wanted to harness the power of voices together to carry the energy of our ancestors and future generations in a search for wholeness and healing. The work would bring together a community of emerging and elder voices from across the country to sing one note in lament and mourning, and also with a hope to carry forward healing, wisdom and change. 


The Note

One Note. Yes, one note. The one note represents a call to gather in parabolic focus to address issues of diversity, exclusion, racism, indigenous reconciliation and forces of division around the world. At the heart, the one note is a call for us to come to know again our interconnected wholeness from which the kaleidoscope of our stories emerge. The note we offered is on the frequency of 215 Hz (slightly below A).

The sound does not fall in the frequencies of western notation system. It is somewhere between. The choice of this note suggests that many music cultures live outside western music theory and notation. Many instruments may not be able to hit that specific note but the human voice can.

Each individual brought their hearing of the note to bear. Together in a collective tapestry of lament the note comes alive with nuanced texture and vocal colour. We recommend hearing this expression with headphones to catch the stereo effect of the voices from different sonic directions. 

With our Gratitude,
Bearing Witness

 

 
 
 
 

Meet Our Team

Bismillah Raven

Bismillah Raven white_edited.jpg