“Crying Bones”

Biintigen miinawaa, Welcome again,

Once again, a chi-miigwech to CBC Superior Morning for debuting the new releases for the upcoming album, “and then…”. I’m a big fan of CBC, and they were the first to ever play my music, so I am feeling respect and gratitude for their support, and for all of you who are coming to watch, listen and follow along with the release. The entire album will be available digitally in December. This will be the fifth and final song that CBC will release. There will be a total of 11 songs on the album which I will release slowly as well, but the last for CBC. Can’t thank them enough.

In mid- August, we released “Warrior’s Lullaby” (you can read the blog here).  An emotional song for so many. I want to add here, that I will NOT be making funds/revenue on this song or on an upcoming song “Crying Bones“. Should there be any funds off of these two songs, we will donate the full amount to an organization that is dedicated to using donated funds to reconciliation efforts. We are currently working on finding the right organization to donate to. Two after that, we released “Listen to the Waves” (read the blog here.) This one is light and fluffy…. written on my honeymoon. Then we released “i miss you(read blog here.) This song brings so much emotion to the core. I truly find it one of my most beautiful songs I’ve ever written, but it was born for for such a heartbreaking reason. Last week, we released “These Days” (read blog here.)

Please keep reading with an open mind. I do not intend to offend anyone, but I want to let my truth and thoughts out. “Crying Bones” is not an easy song…

Where did “Crying Bones“. come from? My 5 year old son, Rex. I was playing “Warrior’s Lullaby” at the kitchen table with my guitar. I had just written it the day before. He looked up at me with a sad look on his face and said,  “Mom, that song makes my bones cry. I have crying bones!”. I immediately heard that “”Crying Bones“. as a song. I started playing the guitar. I asked if he wanted to write a song about it. He said “Yes!”. I kept playing the guitar, and he came out with the chorus all on his own…. “Crying Bones, Crying Bones… You’re not alone… Crying Bones.”. And within a few minutes would had this song.

Crying Bones“. is certainly a strongly worded song that really speaks about the Indigenous children who were found buried at former Residential School sites over the past few months. We as Indigenous people always knew… when your child doesn’t come home, you never stop thinking about it, or crying about it. You always wonder what happened, hope against hope that they are ok, pray that they will return home to your arms. When thousands of children never came home, we knew the story went deep…

Warrior’s Lullaby” was a song to honour the children who died and the children who survived, many who are still with us today. “Crying Bones“. is a song that bring heat, pain, and the very pointed truth. It is song that is meant to draw the very real story out in an almost unforgiving way. We lost our children. If you think about how you (or someone close to you with a child or children) would feel if your child was just … gone… most people would be reluctant to show forgiveness, and rightly so. This is tragic. Beyond tragic….

And now we have National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

So what is Truth and Reconciliation? Well, it needs to start with the Truth… “and then…” Reconciliation. We can not have reconciliation without knowing, acknowledging, admitting, learning and understanding the truth. It is only then that we can start to move towards reconciliation … moving forward in a good way together that honours the stories, lives, ways of being, traditions of Indigenous peoples. Not just historically, but presently and in the future. We are still here… We are not just a closed chapter in this country. If you were given this day off, please understand this is NOT a holiday but a day to think, learn, reflect, engage in conversation. Use this day wisely and with good intention in the way it is meant to be. (And on the same note, please do not wear an Orange Shirt if you do not know why you are wearing it. It carries meaning, history, understanding, a symbol of your commitment to understanding the truth. If you put one on your child, please make sure they know why they are wearing it.)

Rex helping hang the “Every Child Matters” flag at school.

I often hear, “It’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything” or along those lines. Well, it may not be an action you did, but we are all part of this history, and if you are a Canadian citizen, regardless how long or short you have been here, you are part of the history. It is up to every person to work as a collective to move forward. It is our collective responsibility to work together. We may never right the wrongs, but we can do better. We can’t do better if you don’t know better. You will only know better by accepting and learning about the truths around you and being part of the solution.

Work with us… be sure you are not working for us, but with us. Stand beside us, and take action with us. I have also heard people say they are going to “save” us or do things to better our lives. That is not understanding and learning, that too, is part of the problem. We need to be acknowledged and witnessed, not saved. Usually, we ask people if they want help, or ask how we can help. Rarely do we just help without asking. Our history is huge! Certainly, a situation where you should ask how and if you can help.  Sometimes I think that people “helping” us without asking how and if we want help perpetuates the problem, and allows blinders to stay on. Give yourself the opportunity to learn by asking us what you can do, listen to our stories, feel our pain, learn to understand, understand to learn.  Be ok to wait if we are NOT ready to accept your help and invite us in. Think about the pain of losing what we lost, our children, our culture, our language, our dignity. Most of these things we might slowly, with time, regain to a degree, but not our children. Those children are no longer with us. Let us be upset, wouldn’t you be? Would you “get over it” if this happened to you?

Rex – song co-writer

If my 5 year old can feel this, everyone and anyone can. He helped write a song. A small action, perhaps, but a meaningful one. I have been very open with him about the history. He knows children were buried at residential schools; he knows that some of these schools were awful for children; he knows that children would have to spend sometimes hundreds of sleeps in a row before they could see their families; and he knows that many were his age. It has not traumatized him, in fact, it has actually spurred some amazing conversations and learning opportunities. He knows that I was part of the 60s Scoop. You would be surprised how much young minds understand. Do not shelter your children; by keeping the truth hidden you may be accidentally be perpetuating a deeper problem of ignoring and doing nothing. That being said, I didn’t tell my child about things he can wait to learn like the physical torture in some schools and the sexual abuse, but he knows that there was abuse to the extent he can feel the wrong in it. He knows that children died there and were buried and their mothers cried for them. He knows. He understands.


I appreciate your time, your ears, your eyes, your heart, your soul in learning to understand. Miigwech…


Vanessa Willow Giiniw-Ikwe

The artwork is a special story too. If you have been following this album release, you will remember that I’m doing a slow release on the music and a slow release on the artwork too. Sonya Belisle completed the artwork on the first 2 songs. Vanessa Willow Giiniw-Ikwe completed the following three which includes this song. I told the artists that I didn’t want to know what they were doing, and I did’t want to add my input. I wanted their thoughts as artists to come out and into the artwork.

When Vanessa said she wanted to do the artwork for “Crying Bones“., I was not sure where she would take it. I knew it would impact her deeply. She knew from the moment she heard the song that she wanted to do the artwork for this song. What she added is hard to see… to really see. She always starts with a smudge, but this really needed a smudge. She cried while she completed this art. She felt every child she drew and painted. She felt the impact of history as the art grew into what it became. We both hope that you feel it too. This…is…important…

Well, I thank you all for reading this little post, and I so much appreciate you watching and listening.

If you were moved by this song, we would so appreciate you sharing this song with your friends, family and contacts. I humbly thank you in advance.

If you would like to be on a mailing list for the songs as they come out or for information on the upcoming album, “and then…”, please feel free to send me an email to shyanne.leah@gmail.com.