Cree singer/songwriter Angel Baribeau is back with a second single and video from the hit EP, For Those I Love(d). “Wish We Were Older” has already reached number one on the Indigenous Music Countdown and its music video amassed over 33,000 views in less than two weeks.
While the powerful pop song belies its melancholy with propulsive energy, the video tells a tale of love and loss passed through generations. Depicting an older woman reminiscing about her love of another woman, a stirring montage illustrates joyful moments of their relationship with beautiful shots of summertime in Montreal and the surrounding countryside.
“I wanted to provide positive imagery for anybody who watches the music video, because I didn’t grow up with a lot of healthy representation of what Indigenous queer people are,” Baribeau told the Nation. “That’s kind of my main goal, work toward providing positive representation for youth in Eeyou Istchee and youth in general.”
While Baribeau now openly identifies as non-binary and prefers to be referred to by they/them pronouns, they have discussed the importance of music in their life to express their struggles as an Indigenous, two-spirited person. It has been a journey of self-acceptance for the 20-year-old artist but Baribeau is thankful that society is becoming more open to diversity.
“The world I grew up in is not the same we’re growing up in now!” Baribeau exclaimed. “I’m super happy to see there’s a lot more dialogue in my communities about queer, two-spirit folk. If you don’t have space, then creating space. I definitely think our collective consciousness as Eeyouch/Eenouch is broadening to once again include folks like me.”
Baribeau explained the video concept in a meeting with director Patrick Shannon, cinematographer Alexandre Fortes and both their managers. They discussed key themes to include within the story, which helped inform the settings and actors chosen.
“I had a concept in my head and told everybody in that initial meeting what I wanted to see come to life – what was great was I did see it come to life,” said Baribeau. “I was there during the filming – it was really cool! In my brain, I could not have imagined it turning out as well as it did.”
Shannon, also known as Nang Ḵ’uulas, is an Indigenous film director from Haida Gwaii and the founder of InnoNative film production company. He came to Montreal, where Baribeau currently resides, a month before the video shoot last summer to discuss details about the storyline and scout filming locations.
“This music video recounts a lifetime of true love between an elderly two-spirit Indigenous couple,” shared Shannon. “The challenges, the joy, the raising of a family in a community where that isn’t common. It’s sombre but beautiful — and a reminder that everyone can find love and bring beauty into this world.”
Featuring an all-Indigenous cast, Baribeau described the honour of working with so many strong women in the video production and the pleasure of discussing their lives and experiences. It was also an opportunity for an unexpected family reunion, when Baribeau’s cousin Kenny arrived for a shoot at their apartment with his daughter Mekhi Wagoush.
A particularly striking part of the video showcases Montreal’s Old Port at night, with the young lovers rotating high above the city in the giant Ferris wheel. Baribeau said it was one of their favourite memories from the shoot, despite almost losing their beloved guitar.
“We were filming a scene behind the Ferris wheel and I’d put my guitar down because the scene didn’t require it,” Baribeau recalled. “Then we wanted shots inside the Ferris wheel – I was standing outside with my cousin. When they came out it dawned on me, we didn’t have the guitar anymore. My cousin goes into a sprint all the way to the other side and found it luckily.”
Baribeau is appreciative of Chris Robertson and Brianna Oversby for assisting with locations. Robertson’s family cabin was the setting for another of the shoot’s highlights, when actress Tealey Ka’senni:saks Normandin made the crew fried bread in a scene inspired by a famous 1990s film.
“Patrick and I had discussed being inspired by the film Ghost, the scene where [Demi Moore’s character] is doing pottery, so we thought we should do the same thing but with fried bread,” explained Baribeau. “It gave us a great excuse to have a bunch of fried bread after.”
Baribeau said it’s been heartwarming to witness the enthusiastic reception to their music and being able to provide inspirational representation for Indigenous queer youth. Currently back in Mistissini for an artist residency with Mikw Chiyâm, the arts education program provided by non-profit organization inPath, Baribeau is teaching in the exact room they graduated from.
When inPath co-executive director David Hodges toured the Cree Nation in 2014 with an early version of the N’we Jinan mobile music production studio, Baribeau had to be forced into the workshop. However, when the album Eeyou Istchee was released following the tour, it was Baribeau’s featured vocals that propelled it to number one overnight on the iTunes Canada charts.
Although the Mikw Chiyâm program was piloted the next year in Mistissini, it took a long time before Baribeau could see a future for themselves in the arts. Now a confident multimedia artist, Baribeau is the first former Mikw Chiyâm student to become an artist-in-residence. They have previously completed residencies in songwriting and visual arts in different communities.
“It’s a privilege to be around young minds in this kind of setting, especially when I’m sharing my own knowledge,” said Baribeau. “Now I’m here to do another music/poetry/spoken-word/sound-space workshop and help them create their own spoken-word pieces paired with another local Cree artist, Christian-John Monias [aka Cjay Griz] from Chisasibi.”
As Baribeau works on a full-length album, they look forward to eventually touring Eeyou Istchee and anywhere else they’re invited. As an artist and educator, Baribeau hopes that by others seeing people like them succeed, they would realize their existence is valid and they are not alone.
“I’d like to encourage people from Eeyou Istchee to attend Mikw Chiyâm celebrations,” Baribeau concluded. “It’s their youth putting messages out there in the world that they want their communities to see. I wouldn’t be where I am without all the other artists around me. There are so many artists in Eeyou Istchee – we’re a Nation of artists!”