Spurred on by a challenge from late Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, Blue Rodeo keyboardist Michael Boguski has launched The Cold Manitoba Project, a charitably-minded collective of artists working towards fulfilling Downie's vision of reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous peoples.
The Cold Manitoba Project's first act has been to release the song "Cold Manitoba." Boguski along with Chris Mason and Lucas Goetz (formerly of The Deep Dark Woods), Jim Bowskill (The Sheepdogs, Blue Rodeo), Chris Sleightholm and Dustin Bentall recorded the song which was written by Toronto songwriter Eddie Orso. All proceeds from the song will go towards the Native Addictions Council of Manitoba.
The song is classic Americana strongly reminiscent of The Band, with melancholic lyrics about long bus and train rides.
The mission of the Native Addictions Council of Manitoba is to provide traditional healing services to First Peoples through the holistic treatment of addictions. It's a native-owned and operated treatment centre that directly targets the addictions problems facing First Nations peoples in Manitoba and the surrounding areas.
"The goal of this project is to move people towards healing – healing as individuals, and as communities," says Boguski on the Cold Manitoba website. "I think it’s important to find ways where we can reach out to each other and find common ground. We can begin to get through the hurt by coming together and understanding that there are similarities between all of us. Substance abuse and mental health are not isolated issues – they’re global and affect all people from all communities. My hope is that 'Cold Manitoba' will help bring more awareness to these unifying issues, and can help us think of ways to reconcile and move towards peace and togetherness."
In the months before his death in October 2017, Downie had dedicated much of time towards Indigenous rights and reconciliation in Canada through his album/book/film project Secret Path as well as personal advocacy. Downie also challenged fellow Canadians — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — to do the same.
Watch the "Cold Manitoba" videoNike