Sharing Space with Dr. Roberta Bondar

Episode 2: Buffy Sainte-Marie, singer/songwriter and universal conscience

December 01, 2021 Dr. Roberta Bondar Season 1 Episode 2
Sharing Space with Dr. Roberta Bondar
Episode 2: Buffy Sainte-Marie, singer/songwriter and universal conscience
Show Notes Transcript

Singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie talks to Dr. Bondar about beloved foods that were cultivated by Indigenous peoples of the Americas, comparing spaceflight to jetlag, the importance of curiosity, talking to the Dalai Lama about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and encouraging kids to dream about a job in the arts or sciences.

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Roberta Bondar:

The celebration of the 30th anniversary of my historic spaceflight continues back here on earth with this podcast series Sharing Space with Dr. Roberta Bondar. Now this is an opportunity for you to join me while I explore life, creativity, flexibility and change with my guests, some of the most famous and globally well respected Canadians. In each of these podcasts, we will hear a special guest express personal views about the present and the future. And if you have a deep passion for exploration and inquiry, whether it's through the arts, sciences, or athletics, for example, the storytelling in this series is for those who wander, and those who wonder. Join me now to explore how some of the most notable Canadians exercise their creativity and curiosity in a wide array of fields. Unlike those of the night sky, these stars are within reach. So let's tap into their energy as they enlightened us. Buffy Sainte-Marie, the voice, the creativity, the energy, what on earth is she thinking about the complex world in which we live. She's a Companion of the Order of Canada, Master of her universe, an explorer, a discoverer, a risk taker, a Starwalker that titled one of her well known hit music recordings, and as a singer songwriter, she is not afraid to push into new worlds of thought and music, and bring us along with her. Thank goodness dozens and I mean dozens of creative awards and honors, including many honorary degrees, Juno's and Juno's, other international honors and awards, Aboriginal and humanitarian awards, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, inductee into the Canadian songwriters and the Canadian music halls of fame, a star on Canada's Walk of Fame, and of course, a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and an Oscar for her deeply moving Up Where We Belong. Let's begin. You know, when I was going to go into space, I had kind of had some ideas about what it was I wanted to see from space. If you had a chance to go into space, is there any one thing you'd like to look at or like to see like, like the perspective of the planet or something.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Number one, I don't want to go. [Laughter]. I don't want to go. As much as it, I live in Hawaii and I, although I love it, once I'm on the road, I usually don't want to go. I have a wonderful case of inertia. I like to sit tight. And I think I have no adventuresome spirit, I'm very happy just to stay right here. I live, I live with a bunch of goats, in a, in the mountains and on an obscure island in the Hawaiian chain and it's, it's quite lovely. And I really do love the world and love the Earth and when I see a launch, pulling back and looking, looking at our, our beautiful planet, I'm thinking of all of the knowledge that's still here on planet Earth. So I'm, I'm really interested in the entire planet. And I'm especially interested in the archaeology, although new things that archaeologists are finding that indigenous people have known for such a long time. I mean, you know, not just two or three pyramids in a culture, but how about 60,000.

Roberta Bondar:

I remember when I went to Mexico, the first time I looked at the pyramids, and was struck by the fact that when you stood back from them, there's something about the architecture, and the whole issue of how all these heavy pieces were piled together. It is, it is quite amazing.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

I was talking to an Indigenous person who, he was an archaeologist working at Chichn Itz in Mexico...

Roberta Bondar:

Oh yes. Yes, yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... with, whether, that's where, that's what, if you clap your hands in front of that pyramid, the echo will come back to you as the sound of an eagle crying or don't ask me how they figured that out, how to do that 1000 years ago, but that's what happens. And I was asking this guy, you know, the the Europeans and the Indigenous people of the world met at just the worst possible time in human history. You know, it was during the Inquisition, look what people were doing to each other just in Europe, it's a horror, horror and they misperceived each other. I mean, the Indigenous people saw the Spaniards coming with, you know, with a crucifix, you know, with you know, they didn't understand what that was about, you know, torturing so, they didn't understand.

Roberta Bondar:

That doesn't sound normal.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

No, and the Spaniards when they were looking at, you know, the sculpture and art and architecture of Indigenous people, they saw a Jaguar with what looks to be it looks as though Jaguar was vomiting snakes, but I talked to this Indigenous archaeologist and see you know what that is? That's a real misperception. The Jaguar represents the power of nature like hurricanes and the ocean and you know, just the big time universe, the power, the the the sacred feminine, almost what Christians would call the Holy Spirit. Now, this the power of the eternal, and the serpent represents eternity. So what that is, think of a cartoon, you know, when you have a little cloud and an arrow pointing toward the character... ... it means its is speaking, it means that

Roberta Bondar:

Yes. this Jaguar, the power of nature, is teaching us about eternity, in terms of the serpent is speaking, is is givin us that information and tha 's science really. And some o those skulls and things that ou see depicted were o their scientists and, but we' e just not conditioned to thin about Indigenous people in the Americas as having s ience. Well, I've been, I've always been fascinated by the astronomy, and the whole business of of the stars and how things were set up in certain ways, deliberately, because of lunar cycles, or the solar, the solar cycles. It, I just go, as not not even just a scientist, or as an astronaut interested in the stars. But I look back to when I was growing up on the shores of Lake Superior, and so influenced by the night sky, and not being able to make much of it when I was three, and then buying a little book on stars just to try to figure this all out. And yet they had this generation after generation, and they would improve the understanding. But they would also develop new ways of trying to sort some of these things out. So they developed quite incredible ways. Without the without the computers that we have today that we, we take for granted that we use. I'm sure back in those days, they had things that kids would would just assume, they assume that'd be there their whole life. I mean, it's like computers are always with us. And we go there for answers. I'm sure they they had questions too, when they were growing up about the stars and, and they would have had some answers.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

And most of us who have come down through a European perspective in studying geography, government, science, everything, and we think the Greeks invented everything, and nothing happened after that, which is because a very narrow kind of...

Roberta Bondar:

No.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... grade 7, 8, 9 perspective of the realities. But Indigenous people throughout the world, I think, I think many people are surprised to find out, we had science too. Any society that has survived, has had, science, has noticed things, has tested things. I mean, we know that if there's a big black cloud coming, we know for experience, there's going to be a storm. But if we see a bunch of clowns in the shape of Buffalo, we're smart enough to know, no, that doesn't mean the buffalo is coming. You know. [Laughter]. We, we do experiment, we do test, we do share knowledge across generations. We, the contributions of Indigenous people usually knock the socks over people who haven't come across it before. I mean, they have no idea the impact of mathematics and astronomy, of, you know, agriculture, of the sophistication of optics and acoustics that the Mayans were already doing, you know, 1000 BC. You know, I recommend it to you that book by Jack Weatherford. It's called Indian Givers, How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. There it is, oh!

Roberta Bondar:

With all my, with all my bookmarks in! It's all of interesting, all the interesting things.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Oh, you're a great student. I always recommend that book, in particular, for people who are just starting because it really has a great attitude. It's really, you know, the, the secondary title is how the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World.

Roberta Bondar:

That's right. Yeah.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

It's, it's true. And it's a beautiful little book. When you study the Indigenous people of the world, you realize that although colonialism kind of took over and ruled for a while, you know, when everybody was enslaved, we're coming out of that now. And the wealth of knowledge among Indigenous people in medicine, in medical inventions, I mean, people aren't aware that so many things were invented on this side of the water, things, I mean, that people were doing cranial surgery, people were using surgical instruments made from copper and gold and silver...

Roberta Bondar:

Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... and chert and, and quartzite. People were doing really advanced work and that's there, still yet to discover. So whenever I'm coming across, you know, some of the well said objections to the bad parts of colonialism, I say the good news about the bad news is that more people know about it now, and therefore more people can find out about all the things that nobody told you when you were in grade six. [Laughter]. The knowledge is getting loose, and it's very exciting.

Roberta Bondar:

You talked to me before we were exchanging emails about rubber, and about the games, potatoes, and some of the crops. I knew about corn and maize. But, I must say I was amazed about the potato.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

A lot of European cooking just wouldn't exist without the influx of crops that were, I mean, you know, we didn't find them and dig them up and say, "Here, I found a potato." No, these things were hybridized over centuries, you know, sweet potatoes, and just about every color of the rainbow, we weren't just trying to be cute and have colored potatoes, no different ones grow at different altitudes. And if you're like the Irish, and you only plant the white potatoes that Sir Walter Raleigh gave you, only he didn't tell you who gave them to him. [Laughter]. If you only plant one kind of potato, then you could have a potato famine. But the Indigenous people in the Americas were more experienced in growing that crop. So they, there were hundreds of different varieties of a crop that would grow in different places. So if one failed somewhere, you had other things to fall back on. And if you tell, you know, if you tell kids, oh, we're going to have Indian food, they'll say, "oh, it's going to be bugs and it's going to be twigs", and you know. No, it's going to be, you know, it's going to be things like popcorn and chocolate and vanilla, and sweet potatoes and white potatoes. It's going to be tomatoes. Oh, the Italian kids are gonna say, "Wait a minute! ...

Roberta Bondar:

Yeah. [Laughter]

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... Tomatoes are Italian." No. Zucchini, all squashes, all melons, blueberries and maple syrup. I mean, we have some pretty yummy stuff on our tables. [Laughter] And we're still sharing.

Roberta Bondar:

Oh, you're making me hungry!

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Oh, good.

Roberta Bondar:

And and on your farm do, do you like have a vegetable patch or anything? Or would the goats get them?

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, the goats have their own pastures. And they're in fences. But where I live, we have wild pigs and wild chickens. So I have to fence my gardens and I have two gardens, I have garden 1 and garden 2, and I rotate my crops and um. Living in a way can be very expensive, unless you do grow your own food, you don't want to be flying, you're flying your lettuce in. So most of our meals are built out of whatever comes in from the garden, then we'll add some protein and whatever else.

Roberta Bondar:

So when you're thinking about all these foods, do have things that that are favorites that you that you'd like to put together that sort of reflect either Indigenous history or what people cook in Hawaii, for example, I didn't know if there was something that was a traditional dish that that you'd like that you made.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Oh, I make all kinds of things. But for the most part, things like salmon, and blueberries, and avocado are

Roberta Bondar:

Well, it is. I mean, I think you could think very, very, very good for you. And they're also staples of Indigenous food where, for instance, in the northwest coast where you can get those foods. But people are so much you know, living on junk food instead of more nutritious food. I think partly because nutritious food is just not as popularly advertised. And so I kind of, I don't, I limit myself to making sure that I'm getting enough, if I'm getting enough nutrition, I don't worry too much about the next chocolate cake that walks by me. [Laughter]. Because it's not a matter, oh, what do you stay away from, it's how to keep myself beefed up mentally, emotionally, physically. And I work out a little bit, you know, probably not as much as I should, but you know, sometimes about the worst jetlag you've ever had. [Laughter]. And that I do. If I'm going to go on the road, I really work out and I would be close to it. You're so right, it's very disorienting. get real strong because you have to be you just have to be to In space, when we first get up there for the, if you're, if people are honest, for the first two or three days, people don't handle jetlag, and stuff like that. And, boy, I'd sure like to feel very well. And one tends to know, there's an expression interview you about like, what's it like to come back from space? "toss your cookies" for a reason. So people would toss their cookies. And a lot of it, we're finding out, and some of And how do you get to your, you know, it has got to be a the research that I originally did was because some of the disorienting in certain ways. And how do you get yourself? fluid shifts up into your brain. And so your brain gets a little bit more filled with, with fluid and it's not quite working as well. And then after a while we get used to it, things settle down a bit. But with these longer spaceflights actually ... continued pressure in the head. Yeah, I when they come back now they're got trouble with there, a lot of people have trouble with their vision on these long term flight because of...

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Really? noticed when I came back, that even a business card would weigh my hand down, just the weight, because my body hadn't adjusted. Like in space there's, there's not enough gravity that our bodies can sense. So basically we're in freefall. Coming back, it's, it's equivalent to be walking with a couple of big bowling balls or some big weights in in both hands, just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Because your center of gravity is so off. It really teaches us in spaceflight, a lot about how the human body really does work. And all we've done is really take away gravity. So there's lots of things to be learned about spaceflight, but it is a very challenging environment. It's not, it's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. I recently had some friends come from Toronto. And you know, it's a, it's a long ride. I mean, most people in Canada aren't really sure where Hawaii is because in order to save money, book companies, they put Hawaii just kind of off the coast of Mexico, right? No, no, no, no! [Laughter]. It's all the way, several pages back. You know, if you, if you look at a globe, Hawaii is the only thing on the other side of the planet. You know, we're the most isolated spot on Earth. But it's very, very far away. I mean, I've been traveling back and forth like that for so long, I mean, Hawaii to Europe, it'll just half kill you. You're 12 hours jetlag, you're exactly opposite where you want to be, you know, you drill a hole through the world, you come out the other side, and you're just playing upside down. But I've come to the conclusion, which I'd love to check out with somebody who actually knows science. Jetlag, I think it's not just a matter of, oh, I didn't get enough hours sleep, or my clock is different, I have to get up earlier now, I don't... I think it has to do magnetism too. I bet it does. I bet we're all oriented to, you know, to our magnetic, where we are to be right now. But in two day's we're going to be totally different. I wonder if anybody's done any of that kind of research? Or, you know, I wonder if that is impactful in someone like yourself, who was, you know, just made just ultimate journeys?

Roberta Bondar:

Yeah, well, I mean, birds are, for sure birds are, have the ability to understand magnetism and use it for navigation for sure. When we went into space early on, people were just , just wanted to make sure people would eat and swallow foods and stuff. And now it's it's getting more sophisticated, but certainly not really that sophisticated. We think about the human body differently now. There are things that we have seen that occur in spaceflight, with the human body that we wouldn't have predicted, we would have predicted bone loss. And we were predicted that we'd feel heavy when we came back. But I don't think that most people who are involved in science and research work with space stuff would have predicted that certain parts of the body are sensitive to gravity. And when it's not there, they kind of reform and the the whole nervous system, it's biological tissue, right? It's, it's not like putting a hard drive in or a motherboard into a computer, it takes time to to repair itself. It takes time to put down new pathways. But we're finding that there are some cells in the body that we thought, well we wouldn't have thought they had any connection to gravity, sense gravity somehow, the cell membrane, so there are things about that. And it's a hole. So I wouldn't say that you're wrong. I would have a huge open mind about it and say, we just don't know enough yet.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah. Wow. So much we don't know.

Roberta Bondar:

Yeah. Yeah. [Laughter]

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Let's find out!

Roberta Bondar:

Really?

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

[Laughter]. Were you curious as a kid?

Roberta Bondar:

Oh, yeah. You were too, it sounds...

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

I was yeah.

Roberta Bondar:

... it sounds from all that I've read.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah I was curious too.

Roberta Bondar:

Yeah, I I believe that curiosity comes before passion. If you're curious about something and become passionate, but then I've been always telling teenagers and younger adults that it's great to be curious. It's great to have a passion, but you need to have a strategy or a plan to get somewhere with it. I mean, look at you and all the things you've done with different types of creativity, and you can't put a person into a box.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

No.

Roberta Bondar:

A person is a person and all this diverse experience. Do you think a bit like that?

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah, kinda. And, you know, I just didn't fit as a kid. I mean, dig this. Here. I am a little kid. Yeah, I was adopted into a family who were mostly white, my mom was part Mi'kmaw. We lived in a white community. And they told me that I couldn't be a musician. And I would fail music class. And I would get shunned and snubbed and shamed in music class, because I couldn't read European notation. No matter what I did. I tried three times in my life, never could learn how, right. But I would go home after school and I sit down, from the age of three, I could play fake Tchaikovsky or anything I heard on the radio, I think...

Roberta Bondar:

Amazing.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... eventually I could play Fats Domino, or Jerry Lee Lewis, right. I could do all these things. But I was told you cannot be a musician. We're not going to let you because you're not going to do it our way. And I was also told that I couldn't be an Indian because there aren't any around here, "oh, there may be a few over there in Arizona, but you can't be one of those either". So I was told two things that made me know, you know what the world is sometimes wrong. [Laughter]. And I had a terrific mom and she said, "You know what, the world is sometimes wrong. And when you grow up, you can go out and find out." So that's the kind of curiosity I had. In a way, I had two strikes against me. But on a, in another way, I had two strikes for me, because I was certain that sometimes the world was wrong. And that really, it really gave me the idea that there were a whole lot more doors to open and that, you know, obviously, there are things that are obscure to many people in the world that I know, are true, because I knew I was a musician. And you know what, many, many years later I found out that actually, I'm dyslexic in music. So I read all the time, no problem at all. But like Einstein had something called dyscalculia, there's also a...

Roberta Bondar:

Oh yes?

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... it's musica. So he had a hard time with certain kinds of symbology. And I tried three times to learn how to read music. And I finally, Berklee College of Music, confirmed, "Yep, you're probably dyslexic in music", whoever heard is such a thing?

Roberta Bondar:

Well look at you now, look at you, look what you've done. I mean, in spite of all of that. I mean, you, there must have been some strength in all of that, that you're able to...

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah!

Roberta Bondar:

... draw on to be able to do these things.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah, just the idea that knowing that even though some Bozo in the record business says I can't do something electronic, you know, well, watch me. [Laughter]. Yeah, it just gave me, it gave me, it just gave me a sense of, a sense of laughter really about how sometimes the world just doesn't know yet. The world is not, the world is unevenly ripe in my view. Everybody, I think everybody's all ripening all the time, every little plant, every animal, every blade of grass, every person, each one of us is ripening, in my view, in our own pace in our own space. And we're not supposed to be all alike, as a matter of fact, what's cool about us is that we're each unique. And I don't think there's a whole lot of applause for that at the moment. But I think that eventually, we'll come to appreciate that and each other more and more.

Roberta Bondar:

Oh, for sure. Well, I mean, I the fact that you have goats, that you that you're, you're okay with where you are, for a person who has been in front of so many people, doing so many things, expressing yourself in different ways, whether it's for different musical instruments, or your songs or the lyrics, or how you sing that day, or how you approach yourself that day. I mean, for you to, to now be in a place well, because of COVID, I guess you're you're kind of a bit more confined, like like the rest of us. But you, you sound like you're still, as you said, you're still flowering, you're still ripening, you're still, and you're never gonna get to where you are until you're gone. Right?

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Ever! I don't, I don't think we ever get to a place. I don't know, I just think I think it's continual all the time. And I think the lucky ones among us realize that, you know what I mean, we ain't ripe yet. [Laughter]. The human race is very, very young and infantile, you know, we have to be able to forgive each other. And forgive ourselves, you know, when we screw up, you know, and just go onward and just keep on getting better. And the things that we love to do and the things that we don't love to do, we got to get better at those too, but there's no pressure, there's no race, there's no hurry. In my humble opinion.

Roberta Bondar:

That is a good, that is a good opinion, that that's a very, very healthy, in my view, a way of looking at stuff because there are a lot of people, well the older I get, and supposedly with age comes wisdom. I don't know.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Well I hope so.

Roberta Bondar:

[Laughter]. The older I get, the more I realize how important certain events were in my life. And the ones that were really good, t hose are the ones that, that give me strength and courage. Sometimes I really need it. And they continue to inspire me. I mean, I, I must admit that I have kept things from when I was a child. And I look at them sometimes. And I went on, on my difficult days, they give me back the energy that I need. It's a, it's helping me go back with the memory of being energetic, of being, saying, "hey, I can do that". When you're younger, sometimes you feel you can really do everything. And then you go through a phase where "Oh, I don't know about this". And then you get to be older like we are. And suddenly we feel the importance of the young part of us. That inspires us today.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Well said. Yeah, I think you're right. Recently I got to, I got I got it, I was on a Zoom call with the Dalai Lama.

Roberta Bondar:

Oh my goodness!

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

The Dalai Lama, for whom I have great respect, you know, I had a double major in, at the University of Massachusetts, education because I wanted to be a teacher, but Oriental Philosophy and Religion was my main.

Roberta Bondar:

Really? Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah. So the Dalai Lama reached out to a whole lot of people, and allowed us each to ask a question. And then he answered it in terms of the two things that are most meaningful to him, which he described as compassion, and mindfulness, you know, compassion and kindness for all, all for everything. And mindfulness, which really has to do with being smart enough, aware, aware enough to know what's going on right now. This is the miracle. It's not buried in some book from 1000s of years ago. And it's not way up ahead, you know, in Star Trek. [Laughter]. It's right now. And it was so beautiful to see the Dalai Lama answering people's questions in terms of compassion and mindfulness. And the questions were so beautiful too, just questions about all kinds of things. And I'm happy to say that he's a feminist in the best possible way. And my question had to do with, you know, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a very, very long, ongoing problem. The guess is, you know, ... it's still here. I mean, we're not primitive people. You know, here we are. People, people are flying around in space, but we still have misogyny on our planet. And he did he, he answered my question in a, I can't quote his words, but he is a feminist. And he does realize that, you know, in ancient times, men were physically stronger and had a more important role in, you know, protection and calling the shots. But that's changed a long time ago. And, you know, his answer really was education among everyone just people have to understand, and that again, brings me back to Indigenous ways. And the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mohawks, the Oneidas, you know, the Senecas and the Cayuga, they did something that the US missed. They, the US adopted a lot of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, in order to build the government, you know, two branches of government and a lot of other things. But what the Haudenosaunee Confederacy did that I'm referring to is they used 100% of the adult brain power. [Laughter]. I mean, it wasn't just the guys running things. And people really knew how to work together across gender. They really, you know, if if the clan mothers were the ones who sent in a legislator to the legislature, and if the guy screwed up, they send him back to his women to be replaced. And so the, the just the power of femininity, in the ancient world, wherever you find it, it was part of our survival, like knowing science was part of our survival.

Roberta Bondar:

Right.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

And these are things we can still share today, if we want to.

Roberta Bondar:

Well and society should because it's embarrassing. More than embarrassing, that government doesn't seem to quite get it in some of the areas and legislation takes so long and laws and enforcement of it, all of it. It seems to take, take forever, to try to make any kind of change. And I do want to say that I am, when I see videos of your concerts and I see the red dress on the stage. I think that kind of, that kind of reminder for people should give people not just pause to think about it, but cause to do something about it.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Yeah, we can't wait for government to to act before we act. We need to act locally, in our own communities, in our own families and social structures. You know, we, we we need to break the cycle of bullying, I mean...

Roberta Bondar:

Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... the entire pecking order that came down from Europe and spread all over the globe, many people, societies who are raised with chickens and goats, the pecking order, you know, "peck, peck peck," you know.

Roberta Bondar:

Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

The bully pecks the people under, they bully the people under, right. That kind of way of life translates into I think what a lot of human beings historically took to be human nature. But the pecking order, that's not human nature. No, that's, that's flock nature or herd nature or pecking nature. No, we can do better than that. And life in a circle has been demonstrated in many, many parts of the world, we have had better and worse government. But what we really need to do is to break those cycles in our personal lives. So that we break the circle of bullying, alcohol, drugs, abuse in the family. And that really is where our, our brains and our, our feminine hearts or our paternalistic masculine hearts, whoever we are. That's what we need to be listening to. We can't wait for government to do everything, we got to be doing things all the time in our own neighborhoods, I think. And it's very, very subtle. And we need to be able to do it in a loving way. Otherwise, we betray the whole thing. So you know, we've got our work cut out for us. But we can do it with smiles, you know, this is it's never the first time in human history that bad leadership has ruled, wherever you happen to be, right? [Laughter].

Roberta Bondar:

Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Whoever you want to think about.

Roberta Bondar:

Very true.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

You know, we've survived bad leadership and tough times and pandemics and you know, we've got the heads, we've got the hearts, we've got the numbers, we've got communication. I think we can do these things .

Roberta Bondar:

You're so right. It, we have to string all of these things together in order to go to another level of community, that it starts in the neighbourhood and it, and those kinds of things. So you don't tolerate people doing things that are detrimental to to being able to to be kind to each other, then you don't want to have broken bottles thrown at houses and you, there all kinds of human behaviors that community has a responsibility and has an opportunity to be able to change. When I look at Toronto, I heard the other day, they're talking about how many neighbourhoods were in need of certain educational things. And I'm thinking, wow, you wouldn't think of a, of a normal village or a city or a town as having 134 needy neighbourhoods. I mean, you wouldn't even think that a community would, that you'd have that many neighbourhoods, but obviously we do. And in, you're right, that is a good place where we can start, in order to weave weave a better fabric.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

That's a nice way to put it. You know, you and I are very much privileged in that we have education, curious minds, we're healthy, we've had, you know, long lives. And, and and we're thrilled by what we call science, [Laughter] and the things that science does. And I think that you had asked a question about, you know, how can we get more kids? You know...

Roberta Bondar:

Right.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

... interested in this. And it really is a matter of starting young, I think and you know, when I was running the Cradleboard teaching project, we were doing science through Indigenous perspectives. If you're recruiting kids at elementary grades, really, and letting them know that it's possible, because kids are just told that everything's impossible. Oh, you can't do that. You're too young. You're too big or too little. You're too skinny. You're too fat. You're too this, you're too that. You know, you're too feminine. You're not feminine enough. That's all bullying 101. That's all trolls, don't listen to any of that stuff. But if we help kids to, to dream. I run something called the Creative Native Project and right now we're doing something at Six Nations and with Ryerson College.

Roberta Bondar:

Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

And what I wanted to do, really, I mean, I do all these concerts at reserves, and I looked down and people are so excited. I mean, nothing ever happens on that reserve. Nobody ever comes here. "Buffy you're bringing your show!" Right? Big, big rock and roll band, sometimes even a symphony, you know? And I look at these, everybody's so excited. And then I wonder, the next day, some 14 year old who's been there, how does she feel the next day when the circus leaves town?

Roberta Bondar:

Yes.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

She's still here. How, so I wanted to know how can I provide an on-ramp into the best part of of the arts? You know, how, how can some kid get into the arts? Now she doesn't necessarily want to play a guitar in a spotlight. But there were a lot of people moving the amplifiers. There were people involved in the lighting. There were people involved in hospitality, in advertising, in costumes and makeup and instruments, and there are so many jobs in the arts, as in science, but kids are not ever invited to dream about it. So I think starting young and and letting kids know what, what science is doing. That, that just providing welcome mats, and making it hip for junior high school kids, you know, and high school kids, making it hip, letting them know where the door is, because in show business, nobody ever tells anybody where the door is. Nobody will ever share a phone number of you know, "I know the guy at the record company, and I'm not going to tell you." [Laughter]. You know, that's kind of the, that's kind of the attitude. It's like, anything that makes big money, like sports or entertainment, it's very hard to get anybody to tell you how to get in. But it doesn't have to be that way. And if you recruiting if you if you if you and I, you, as a scientist, me as an artist, you know, if we understand that, this way of life can really be beautiful, life affirming as a way to share. It's a way to replicate knowledge. It can translate into other languages, and it can last for generations, the kinds of things that we're, that we're spotlighting, and that we're involved in. And if you can offer that at different levels of school, not to so that it's boring, but so that it's exciting, I think, I think the doors will open and that we'll have more and more kids able to participate in these rather rarefied, but it shouldn't be rarefied careers.

Roberta Bondar:

Well, I totally, I totally agree with you. The Foundation that bears my name has, we have this thing called the Bondar Challenge and we, we're trying to encourage youth to get involved in it in schools and wilderness camps up in the Northwest Territories. But there was one inner city school that we dealt with, and we didn't even, it was just like, we set up prizes after we look at the photographs that they took of the natural world. And we had a little gallery opening, and I got this, I got this message from this, this nurse whose daughter had some kind of a learning disability in school. And she had very bright siblings, like fraternal twins, and they were always getting the prizes in school. And this young woman always had her head down. Well apparently, she went to the summer camp and did this, this Bondar Challenge project. So this one day a box arrived with a framed, her framed print, a certificate and some other stuff that we sent her. And she went around after that with her head held high just to be, just to know that she was capable of doing something. And she had took a lovely image. So we brought her family down to the gallery where some of my work was showing, and then we had a wall with the student work. And it's that kind of thing that she was then able to to be proud of something that she could do. And I saw that this woman years later, and she said, I said well, how's your daughter doing? She said, "Oh, she's the least of my concerns," she said, "those twins, they're trouble."

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

[Laughter]. Oh, that's such a beautiful story.

Roberta Bondar:

Yeah.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

I think that, I think that it might come as a surprise to a lot of young people to know that people like you and me have a conversation about them. You know, I think it's seldom probably crosses their screen that somebody you know, a couple of people like you and me, we'd be having this conversation, and trying to find ways to share what's beautiful about our lives in the arts and in science, with people we don't even know. Because it's delicious.

Roberta Bondar:

Well, it is. And I know you're you're a busy person, Buffy, and I really thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed this time with you. I just appreciate being able to insinuate myself into a few minutes of your life. And thank you for being inside mine.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

Well, it's a great pleasure and I hope we can do it again sometime.

Roberta Bondar:

Absolutely. And thank you so much again, and from Hawaii.

Buffy Sainte-Marie:

My pleasure. Aloha!

Roberta Bondar:

Okay. Aloha. The privilege to engage with other minds and experiences continues. I would like to thank Buffy Sainte-Marie for sharing her thoughts on history and life with us today. Come back again in two weeks for the next Sharing Space with Dr. Roberta Bondar podcast when my guest will be CBC News Network's Michael Serapio. Thanks for joining me.