Menard celebrates her Metis heritage with Regina Symphony in Rubaboo

Andrea Menard grew up on good food, good music and stories. When she’d visit her memere and pepere in Manitoba, they would eat “rubaboo.”

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Update: A previous version of this story noted a concert would still take place Nov. 26 but it has since been cancelled.

Andrea Menard grew up on good food, good music and stories.

When she’d visit her memere and pepere in Manitoba, they would eat “rubaboo,” which in the Metis language Michif means a stew of leftovers.

As Menard returns to Saskatchewan for her fourth-ever gig with the Regina Symphony Orchestra, Rubaboo was an apt title for her show.

“To me that represents home, it represents family, it represents wealth because when you have food on the stove or food in your cupboard, you feel wealthy, and that’s not always the case for our people,” said Menard, who grew up in Saskatoon.

“So when there’s food on the stove and music, to me that’s when life is good. And I wanted to put that on the stage to bring my culture and this feast of music and a feast of cultural history and stories and education too, to the stage.

“I wanted to be able to educate my audience as well, because I’m still realizing — I’m amazed, like I just had a conversation two months ago with people who’d never heard of the residential schools.”

The show will include Menard’s “culturally specific stuff with good stories around it.” She’ll perform drum songs and “quite a few numbers that are close to my heart from my Metis perspective.”

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A song she recently finished writing with her longtime collaborator Robert Walsh — who will join her in Regina — is about residential schools.

She started writing “Where Is God In This Place?” years ago.

“I was inspired a few years back by all these grassroots movements who were trying to get Pope Francis to come to Saskatchewan to apologize to residential school survivors,” said Menard.

The Pope has yet to apologize, “and that’s five years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And I don’t want people to think ‘oh well, that’s done now.’ It’s not done now; it’s just the beginning of the truth gathering.”

Menard hopes the song, which is being released on Nov. 27, will help educate people who still don’t know about residential schools or other Indigenous history.

“I’m going to take whatever platform I can to bring awareness and to help people understand the true history of our country and the contributions that Indigenous people have made, can make and will make once this reconciliation and healing takes place.”

Menard is also excited to perform “The Return of the Bell of Batoche,” a song she wrote when the bell was returned to the Metis community in 2013, after its seizure in 1885 during the Northwest Resistance.

“I take my Metis culture and my Metis heritage very seriously, where it’s the coming together of two very strong lineages, European and First Nations,” said Menard.

She strives to bring communities together, “finding common ground (and) choosing love and unity over separation. And there’s nothing more important during these times than to remember our similarities.”

Menard was to perform Rubaboo with the Regina Symphony Orchestra this week at Holy Rosary Cathedral. Shows were slated for Nov. 26-28 , but those have been cancelled due to new health guidelines introduced to the province Wednesday. The RSO interds to reschedule all shows.

Patrons will be seated at least two metres apart and are required to wear masks. Anybody who’s feeling ill should stay home and will get a ticket credit.

amartin@postmedia.com