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n Saturday Climate Live Canada held an evening concert with musical performances and climate-focused speeches. The event featured luminaries from Canada’s indie and alternative music scene, including Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis from July Talk, The Weather Station, Dan Mangan, Barenaked Ladies, and many others. Climate Live Canada also brought organizers and community leaders from other climate, Indigenous, and food-security based organizations. The event was hosted by NPR journalist Raina Douris, a graduate of Ryerson University, formerly at 102.1 The Edge and Indie 88.

The event was a prelude to a series of in-person climate focused concerts anticipated for October 16, 2021. Climate Live Canada is part of a coalition of more than 40 international organizations pushing for these events in the fall.

The concert featured talented musicians and speakers from across Canada. Stylistically, the show had a folk and indie rock flavour. It also featured Indigenous music and one high-tempo set from a socially distanced Barenaked Ladies. Every artist used part of the few minutes they had on stage to speak to the audience about the urgency of the climate crisis. 

The musical performances began with Veronica Johnny, a 2 Spirit, Cree and Metis musician, one half of The Johnnys. Johnny is also an Indigenous educator and advisor to Climate Live Canada and Music Declares Emergency Canada, a coalition of thousands of climate-conscious artists. She began with “Strong Woman Song.”

Veronica Johnny sang Strong Woman Sound at the Climate Live concert on Saturday

“When the riots broke out in the Kingston penitentiary, the women that learned this song started to sing it. And they played whatever they could to make the drum sound, including their bodies, and the bars of the cells. All the women that sang the song remain unharmed from all of the violence around them,” Johnny said. “We sing the song in honour of the women, in honour of the feminine, in honour of mother earth," and then she invited the audience to join her with their own drums.

According to host Raina Douris, Climate Live Canada is a youth run organization that is entirely volunteer and made up of climate activists and music industry workers.

“I was one of the first people to help set up the Canadian branch,” said Brighid Fry, 18, in an interview with The Hoser. She is one half of the indie band Moscow Apartment and one of the main organizers of Saturday's concert. Fry is a key founder of the Canadian organization, a coordinator for this concert, and a performer alongside her musical partner Pascale Padilla.

Toronto musicians Brighid Fry, left, and Pascale Padilla, right, of Moscow Apartment

Fry’s ascension in the indie music space in Canada happened alongside her climate activism. Among many other demonstrations, Moscow Apartment was one of the musicians at Queen’s Park in September, 2019 performing in support of the large youth-led climate strikes of the time. Fry has been involved in this movement for many years, beginning with her attendance at the UN Climate Summit in 2005 with her mom, Torontonian teacher and organizer Kim Fry.

Moscow Apartment’s EP “Better Daughter” was released July 2020 and received critical acclaim. Their song “Meredith Palmer” was the first they performed on Saturday. The song is mellow, but profound, with gentle guitars coasting over Brighid and Pascale’s incredible clean vocals. The lyrics were inspired by a nightmare Brighid had, where she watched robotic machines destroying nature in front of her. Moscow Apartment then performed “Awful People”, which they dedicated to politicians failing to take action on the climate crisis. With the added drums the song sounds like a full indie rock band at their best, with higher energy and confident choruses.

“Up until COVID put a pause on touring, I just didn't have time to really devote to climate activism,” Fry told the Hoser over a phone call on Friday. The pandemic’s restrictions on social life and events made it possible for Fry to devote much more time to climate related work. The result of that work includes Saturday’s concert. 

“COVID is part of the reason that I felt inspired. I saw the fact that people could make change much faster,” she said. “We should be treating [climate change] as a disaster.” 

Toronto indie musician Scott Helman

Between sets, the concert platformed key speakers working on food insecurity, wealth inequality, and land defence. These included Paul Taylor, executive director of FoodShare Toronto. Paul is a well known organizer in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood and ran in the 2019 federal election to be the Parkdale-High Park NDP MP.

“The planet is on fire. What do we get? Denial, delay, and nice speeches,” said Taylor in a fiery address about half-way through the concert.

“Last year our federal government gave away 18 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies alone,” said Taylor, pointing to the government’s hypocritical statements about the importance of fighting climate change. “The police are killing, detaining, and arresting those that look like me, Black people as well as indigenous people across this land, without impunity (sic) or consequence,” he said. Taylor heaped praise on Indigenous land defenders, in their “vigorous defence of the earth and its inhabitants” as a necessary and strong contrast to the white-led environmental movement of his childhood. 

Fry and the coalition supporting this initiative are aiming to organize many concerts in different cities in Canada and beyond in October, depending on the public health and pandemic situation at that time.

Brighid Fry and Pascale Padilla of Moscow Apartment celebrate their set at Saturday's Climate Live concert‍

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Posted 
Apr 25, 2021
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