"Gord’s message at the end of his last show, I don’t know if you get a bigger moment in music than that," says Bear Witness, one-third of the Indigenous DJ trio A Tribe Called Red. He is, of course, referring to that moment when Gord Downie, frontman for the Tragically Hip, looked some 20 million people in the eye and said that things up North "ain't good."
It's what Downie did after that final Tragically Hip concert of the band's Man Machine Poem tour in Kingston, broadcast across the CBC, that caused us to name him our person of the year. From his next project, Secret Path, which forced countless Canadians to face the cold, brutal history of our country's relationship with its First Nations, to his charity to promote peace and reconciliation to his receiving, just yesterday, an honour from the Assembly of First Nations gathering, Downie exemplifies the type of spirit we needed to get through a horrendous 2016.
"There is no pressure on him to be what he is being right now," adds Bear Witness. "You have to tip the hat to that big time."
You can read our full feature on Downie, as well as nine other Canadians making a mark on 2016, in CBC Music's new feature, Making Noise: cbcmusic.ca/makingnoise