A local Métis leader in Selkirk, Man., is bringing a sense of pride to the young and entertainment to the elderly by blasting fiddle music from his unmistakable Métis music van.
“We’re in the homeland of the Métis, when they hear the music, the fiddle music, that’s our music,” said “Bucky” Anderson, the culture and heritage minister for the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF).
Anderson is also the vice-president of MMF’s Interlake Métis Association.
Anderson’s music van has become “Selkirk famous” over the last year for showing off a piece of his culture in a city that has 2,500 Métis citizens.
“A lot of people know me,” said Anderson.
“They tell me they love the music. Even in the grocery store, little kids come up to me ‘There’s Bucky, there’s Bucky,’ so that means a lot. It gives me inspiration to keep going.”
For about 20 hours a week, Anderson drives the van up and down the streets and blasts a 20-song playlist which features some of his favourite Métis songs out of the side of the vehicle. As Anderson makes his rounds through the city, he is waved at, honked at, and given thumbs up from people throughout his drive.
Watch the Métis music van roam Selkirk, Man.:
He came up with the idea for the music van last year when people couldn’t gather for events like Indigenous Peoples Day and Canada Day.
“I had that van sitting there and I got to thinking, well, why don’t I bring the music to the people?”
Anderson cut some holes on the side of his 1998 P30 Chevy van, put some speakers in there, connected it to a generator, splashed the blue and white van with a bunch of Métis flags and memorabilia and set out to uplift the spirits of people in the city.
“Our objective is to promote our culture and heritage. And I think we’re doing the job,” said Anderson.
Planting a seed
Throughout the week, Anderson makes his rounds and stops at a few of the local schools, often handing out small blue Métis flags.
One of them is Ruth Hooker, an elementary school where 80 per cent of the students are Indigenous.
For Anderson, the stops are an opportunity to instill a sense of cultural pride.
“When they’re learning about their culture and heritage in school, the seed is planted,” said Anderson.
“So they got an inside track on this . . . They know what the music’s about. They know what the flag’s about.”
Heather Fontaine, an education assistant at the school, said “it’s important for our students to see their culture reflected where they can see it.”
“We come out at recess, we hear that music, they start running and yelling and screaming. They’re so happy, they’re dancing. And it’s just been a real joyful experience for everybody.”
Relief to the elders
Among his biggest fans are the residents of the Knights Centre, a 55-plus seniors residence.
“So many people are depressed of being locked in there by themselves,” said Kathy Matson, a resident at the centre.
“And as soon as we hear the music, they’re out on the balconies clapping, waving and thanking him for coming down.”
Anderson said he took a short break due to an illness recently and people started calling him when they didn’t hear the van for a couple of days.
Although he is occasionally offered money for visits, Anderson said he is fine with being paid with cookies, doughnuts and the reactions that he gets while on his trips.
He hopes to get a newer van so he can travel longer distances.