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A Vancouver church gives performing platform to First Nation musicians

A Vancouver church is supporting First Nation artists who found themselves in dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shawn Bullshields
Shawn Bullshields will be the first to perform at the St John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church's 'Songs and Stories’ online concert. Photo credit: St John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church

A Vancouver church is supporting First Nation artists who found themselves in dire straits due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

St John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church in Vancouver will be hosting its first "Songs and Stories" online concert on Thursday Dec. 17, at 6:30 p.m.

The idea for the concert came from the church’s manager Regan Gorman helping his friend Shawn Bullshields after his busking gig on Granville Island came to an end due to COVID-19. Bullshields, a musician from the Blackfoot Nation in Alberta, will be the first to perform at what will be a monthly concert held by the church. 

Gorman explained the concert is also a result of the church moving to an online service format because of the pandemic. Gorman added that the Anglican church as a whole has been interested in engaging the Indigenous community and saw this was a great opportunity to do so.


Gorman sees Thursday’s concert as the template for the next performances which he hopes can include more performers at the church, social distancing allowing. Gorman also hopes that in addition to allowing First Nations artists to build an audience and gain exposure through performing at the church, the building will serve as a practice space for them too. 

"That's a way that we can not only engage with our own community but extend ourselves out to the greater community and then beyond that by sort of trying to focus in on artists that may have at times had less opportunities for exposure and have been marginalized,” Gorman said. 

The artists have a 45 minute set followed by a 20 minute break where they will be interviewed about their history and their songs. On Thursday, Kerry Baisley, Missioner for Indigenous Justice, will speak with Bullshields about his journey from the Blackfoot reservation in Alberta to playing at one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations as a full time busker.

The concert will be streamed on Bullshields’ Facebook page as well as the St. Johns Shaughnessy YouTube channel.