Tonight, Shauit and the Moroccan group Wachmn’Hit will give their last concert in a city near Montreal, in the French-speaking province of Quebec.
Shauit is a Innu singer and songwriter from Maliotenam, a First Nations reserve north-east of Quebec. Wachmn’Hit is a Morrocan group composed of three members : Ahmed Ouahid, Nawfal Merzoug and Amine Saylani.
What brings them together is their music : reggae.
Together, they participated in an intercultural project entitled From Mashteuiatsh to Rabat, during which Shauit travelled to Morocco for two weeks to participate in a musical residency, a concert series, similar to a concert tour, but given in one place.
This first part of the project set up by Pasa Musik, in collaboration with Boîte interculturelle, an organization that brings communities together, took place in May.
For the second part of the project, Wachmn’Hit travelled from their city of Kenitra to make Darija, the Moroccan Arabic language, resonate in the indigenous community of Mashteuiatsh.
We spoke to Shauit who won the award for Indigenous songwriter of the year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in December, preceded a few months earlier by the award for best album in Indigenous or Francophone language at the Indigenous Music Awards.
We started by asking him what he did in Morocco:
What Shauit really appreciated was discovering the similarities between his community and theirs. He was determined to tackle prejudices about Islamic countries.
(Here is the first song that came out from the project)
Arabic and Innu brought together
As Shauit explained, the artists created new songs, mixing their languages: Arabic and Innu.
The Quebec singer told us more about this mix and how reggae music brought them together:
During his stay in the Moroccan capital, Shauit also learned a few words in Arabic, such as the translation of “We are all from this Earth”. For their part, the members of Wachmn’Hit also learned a few words from the Innu language:
Innu-aimun or Montagnais is an Algonquian language spoken by over 10,000 Innu in Labrador and Quebec in Eastern Canada. It is part of the Cree–Montagnais–Naskapi dialect continuum and is spoken in various dialects depending on the community.
With his songs, Shauit tries to promote the language and make the new generation to learn it more so that Innu can survive.
A cultural exchange
The purpose of this exchange was also to discover each other’s cultures.
When he visited Morocco, Shauit arrived in the middle of the Ramadan period observed by Muslims around the world as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
They are not allowed to eat or drink anything during the day until nightfall.
(Shauit shared a few moments he enjoyed in Morocco on social media, including this one where artists combined their traditional instruments into one symphony)
To get to know the culture, Shauit and his team tried to follow the tradition during their stay in the country:
We asked Shauit what marked him the most during this exchange:
As for the Wachmn’Hit band, they also discovered a whole new culture with its traditions and complex history:
New songs and new plans
Marked by his stay in Marocco, Shauit took advantage of this experience to create a new song about the city of Rabat:
After performing in various locations in Morocco and Canada, the artists will give their final performance this evening, Thursday, July 26, at Beloeil Patriots Park, near Montreal.
But this is not the end of their collaboration according to Shauit. The artist is considering another musical residency and this time he would like to return to Africa but to another country.
He thinks of Senegal where he would also like to invite Wachmn’Hit to continue creating new songs.