I am Michele Perpaul, mother of four great boys. They are there for me and I am there for them. I have lived my whole life in Toronto where my mother and father were also born. My mother's family is from the island of St. Catherines in the Caribbean. My father's family is from the island of Martique.
I am who I am because of the support that I received from my mother. My mother taught me to walk in a good way and be respectful to my elders. I was taught that it is important to have supportive peers and to hold your family close. Now my mother didn't tell me these things, she mirrored them for me. I love you mom!
I came to the Native Community of Toronto when my oldest son started school at the First Nations School of Toronto in 1993. I joined the parent council and started to learn a bit about my responsibilities around teaching my boys about their culture.
I grew up in Toronto and never took in what was offered
to me about black heritage. I haven't taken the time to learn and I didn't
want my sons to have to search for their identity the way I will have
My journey, singing in the community, began in October of 1998. I attended a Pow Wow that was put on by Native Child and Family Service. There was a women's drum group there and the sounds moved me. I approached one of the singers and she told me that I could learn to sing at one of the organizations in Toronto on Tuesdays. Six months later I was asked to sing with the woman I had first met, and we sang together for two years. She taught me to let my voice be heard and sing right out loud.
In the fall of 2000 I was asked to sing with the group which was singing out of the University of Toronto. The name gifted to the group was Songs of the Rainbow (Singing Rainbow). I sang with them for two years. With great sadness Songs of the Rainbow disbanded.
On First Nations Day 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 the groups that I sang with were asked to sing with Sweetgrass City Singers, a group that had been singing in Toronto for a number of years. Rose Stella was one of their original singers and now sings in Spirit Wind.
I have been singing with Spirit Wind since 2001 when they were putting out their Breathing the Wind CD. They wanted an extra voice and asked me to join them. When they had their CD launch they asked me to join them again. Slowly I was invited to sing with them at more events. I was asked to sing with Spirit Wind full time in 2003.
Over the past 7 years I have sang with women and men from across Canada and the States. I really enjoy singing with people from different places and experiences. These experience are the motivational factors of why I sing. Songs are prayers and are an important part of healing communities. When I go to different events I have the opportunity to meet many people that are on the healing path. We give as well as receiving support from each other and we realize they are not alone on our journey.
Singing with Spirit Wind, I have seen
many people opening up emotionally. Music has a way of unlocking the doors
to our emotions that are stuck in all the parts of our body. It is the
key to our freedom of expression which solidifies our love for ourselves.
When we open up emotions we have the choice to work it through or let
it control us. We will always end up in the same place in life if we don't
change what we are doing to the positive. In 2004, people were coming
to me and telling me what was going on in their lives. This was normal
in my life until total strangers began sharing their stories with me while
I waited for the bus. I have experienced many people that need more support
then I could do during a workshop as well. I've become interested in taking
a course in music therapy so I would be able to assist in the healing
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