Recording by Luminous Voices
Timothy Shantz, Artistic Director
The Story of the Song
Okâwîmâw Askiy (Mother Earth) began as a vocable song and Cree words were added to bring more meaning. The intention of the song is love, hope and standing in unity to take better care of our mother earth, Okâwîmâw Askiy. A first-person plural perspective is intentional for us to speak directly to her as we sing to her as her children: Mother Earth, we are your children. We love you.
Okâwîmâw Askiy (Mother Earth) is intended to be performed outside on the land, using the gifts of the land (such as leaves) in performance. If performing inside, it should be performed without shoes to have a softer sound and paper leaves can be made to simulate the sound of leaves falling on the forest floor. Body percussion is to be used instead of a frame drum to symbolize the peoples’ connection to the land.
Okâwîmâw Askiy (Mother Earth) was commissioned by Samantha Whelan Kotkas for the 2021 production, Wandering with Wonder and first debuted by Calgary’s Luminous Voices (Dr. Timothy Shantz, conductor and Artistic Director) with support from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Traditional Cree Teachings About the Earth and Land
The Elders teach us that as Cree people, we have a reciprocal relationship with Mother Earth. She teaches us many things and our responsibility is to protect and care for her. The land and rivers are to be shared among all humans; we do not own Mother Earth or parts of Mother Earth. The land provides us with all that we need to survive and thrive such as water, air, food, shelter, medicines, and fire. Mother Earth has given every living being a purpose on the earth, be they swimmers, crawlers, winged ones, two-footed creatures or four-footed beings. Creation stories speak of humans as the last to be created. We all need to share the responsibility of taking care of our mother earth for future generations.
We are your children
We love you