Hugh’s Room Live Presents ‘Walking Through The Fire’

Sultans of String & Indigenous Collaborators across Turtle Island 
Create Trailblazing Musical Response to the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action

WHEN: Saturday, June 22, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. 

WHAT: Hugh’s Room Live presents ‘Walking Through the Fire’ – Indigenous Collaborations with Sultans of String 

Featuring Dr. Duke Redbird, The North Sound, Shannon Thunderbird, Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk, Marc Meriläinen (Nadjiwan), and a multimedia extravaganza including Northern Cree, Kendra Tagoona, Tracy Sarazin, and more!

WHEREHugh’s Room Live
296 Broadview Avenue,
Toronto ON  M4M 2G7

TIX$45 in advance, $50 at the door, 647-347-4769

A special event presented by Hugh’s Room Live brings the magic of collaboration to the stage, with award-winning First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists from across Turtle Island joined by Billboard charting/6x CFMA winners Sultans of String! Walking Through the Fire is a musical multimedia experience unlike any other. From Métis fiddling to an East Coast Kitchen Party, rumba to rock, to the drumming of the Pacific Northwest, experience the beauty and diversity of music from Turtle Island with Elder and poet Dr. Duke Redbird, Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk of the Métis Fiddler Quartet, Ojibwe/Finnish Singer-Songwriter Marc Meriläinen (Nadjiwan), Coast Tsm’syen Singer-Songwriter Shannon Thunderbird, Saskatoon’s The North Sound as well as virtual guests joining in on the big screen, including the Northern Cree pow wow group, Inuit Throat Singers Kendra Tagoona and Tracy Sarazin, and more!


• EPK 

Sweet Alberta

• Black Winged Raven - feat. Shannon Thunderbird and friends 

• The Rez – feat. Crystal Shawanda

• Take Off The Crown – Lyric Video- feat. Raven Kanatakta  
• Nîmihito (Dance) - feat. Northern Cree 

• A Beautiful Darkness - feat. Marc Merilänen (Nadjiwan) 
• Our Mother the Earth - feat. Duke Redbird 

• Humma – feat. Kendra Tagoona & Tracy Sarazin 

What do the Northern Cree pow wow group, Shannon Thunderbird, Duke Redbird, a dozen other Indigenous artists, and Roots band Sultans of String have in common? They have all come together in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and Final Report, which calls for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to work together to find a path forward and have created Walking Through the Fire. This Toronto CD release show is a powerful collection of collaborations between the roots group and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists from across Turtle Island.

Fire can be destructive, as we have seen with the unprecedented forest fires still burning in Canada. But what we see right afterward is interesting, as collaborating Indigenous art director Mark Rutledge explains, referencing the title and cover art of Walking Through the Fire“You’ll see the burnt-out husks of trees and the ash and the charcoal on the landscape. But fireweed is the first plant after a forest fire that emerges, and you’ll see rivers and fields of magenta within the barren landscape, and those nutrients are going back into the soil for the next generation of trees and flowers and regrowth.”

There is fear instilled within the very notion of fire because it can be so destructive, not just to the landscape, but to the lives of people. But what lies beyond fear that holds people back from achieving what they want to achieve? “The other side of fear is growth and potential with collaboration between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people,” Mark continues. “When we drop the word reconciliation on people, there’s a large group of people who don’t understand what that means. And when you don’t understand something, you are fearful of it. But if we go through the same experience together, we walk through that fire together, and we come out together on the other end and have that unified experience together, that’s the power in this album.”

Together, these artists are making a safe, creative space where new connections can be dreamed of – not in the Western way of thinking and problematizing – but instead a deeper sharing and understanding, with music being the common ground to help cultures connect and understand each other. “We are opening doors for each other, as Indigenous peoples, as settler peoples. This project is about creating connections and spaces to learn from each other,” explains collaborator Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk, violist with Métis Fiddler Quartet.

Nine-time Grammy-nominated Northern Cree and community organizers in Kettle and Stony Point welcomed Sultans of String to their annual powwow for one of these collaborations. Steve Wood, drummer and singer, explains, “When you’re collaborating with mainstream music, it shows that we can work together to bring out the very best in who we are as human beings, and we can bring out something very beautiful.”

A central theme running through Walking Through the Fire is the need for the whole truth of Residential Schools and the Indigenous experience to be told long before reconciliation can possibly take place. Grammy-nominated Elder and poet Dr. Duke Redbird, who in many ways provided the initial inspiration for this project, explains, “The place that we have to start is with truth. Reconciliation will come sometime way in the future, perhaps, but right now, truth is where we need to begin the journey with each other.”

Sultans violinist Chris McKhool, who was recently awarded the Dr. Duke Redbird Lifetime Achievement Award by Redbird and JAYU Arts for Human Rights for working to amplify these truths through collaborations, says, “This country has a history that has been ignored, distorted, twisted to suit colonialist goals of destroying a people. We are so fortunate for the opportunity to work with Indigenous artists, sharing their stories, their experiences, and their lives with us so we can continue our work of learning about the history of residential schools, genocide, and intergenerational impacts of colonization. Music has a special capacity for healing, connecting, and expressing truth.”

The Honourable Murray Sinclair, former chair of the TRC, said, “The very fact that you’re doing this tells me that you believe in the validity of our language, you believe in the validity of our art and our music and that you want to help to bring it out. And that’s really what’s important: for people to have faith that we can do this.”  Sinclair also spoke about the importance of using Indigenous languages so these do not become lost. The recording and concert feature lyrics in Dene, Inuktitut, Sm’algyax, Cree, and Michif.

Sultans of String is a fiercely independent band that has always tried to lift up those around them and has exposed many of their collaborators and special guests to new audiences at their shows, including at JUNOfest, NYC’s legendary Birdland Jazz Club, Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, and London’s Trafalgar Square. Led by Queen’s Diamond Jubilee recipient McKhool, they have collaborated with orchestras across North America and have played live on CBC’s Canada Live, BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and SiriusXM in Washington. They have recorded and performed with such diverse luminaries as Paddy Moloney & The Chieftains, Sweet Honey in The Rock, Richard Bona, Alex Cuba, Ruben Blades, Benoit Bourque, and Béla Fleck. Their work during the pandemic on The Refuge Project amplified the voices of new immigrants and refugees, earning them CFMAs and Best Musical Film at the Cannes World Film Festival. 



Jan 19 – Ottawa   Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
Jan 23 – Kingston  Kingston Grand Theatre 
Jan 25 – Brampton Rose Theatre
Jan 30-31  Guelph  River Run Centre Student shows
Feb 1 – Guelph  River Run Centre 
Feb 2 – Scarborough  Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra 
Mar 2 – Winnipeg  Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra 
Mar 3 – Winnipeg    Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra 
April 15-16 – Markham Flato Markham Theatre – Student Shows 
April 18 – Mississauga   Peel School Board Education
June 17 – Waterloo  University of Waterloo
June 21 – Newmarket  Old Town Hall
June 22 – Toronto    Hugh’s Room Live
Aug 10-11 – Edmonton Edmonton Folk Festival








We would like to acknowledge funding support from non-Indigenous funding streams of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and the Canada Council for the Arts.


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