"I'd Take Back Jesus": Exploring the guilt of colonial legacies through songwriting

Stewart, Laura
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Regina Graduate Students' Association

Unwinding at the piano in late November, I hear a gentle phrase and think maybe I am writing a Christmas song. What emerges, though, is a very different telling of that story, a longing to untell it, stirred by stories of residential school survivors and cultural appropriation, borne up on a current of forgotten painful story in my own past as adoptive sister to a young boy torn from his family and roots by the A.I.M. program. Drawing upon forms of writing that have previously been seen as the domain of the humanities, lyric inquiry opens space in social science research for expressive, personal explorations that may be particularly suitable to address issues of relationship and ethics. Including a performance of the song “I'd Take Back Jesus,” this presentation will reflect on the creative process and the personal impact of the song, and explore how subsequent reflection has opened spaces for my own learning and further inquiry. Emerging questions focus on possibilities and ethics in representing controversial issues in song, particularly who does the representing, who is listening, and how the dynamic between singer and listener is affected by the relative permanence of a written, recorded, or remembered lyric.

Lyric inquiry, Creative process, Representation, Songwriting, Controversial issues, Residential schools