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Anti-pipeline protests at Standing Rock inspired song by duo with Northern Manitoba connection

Spirit Trail, made up of Destiny Fiddler, who grew up in Northern Manitoba, and Chas Piper from Ontario, released “Water Protectors” in January.
spirit trail destiny fiddler and chas piper web rectangle
Spirit Trail, made up of Destiny Fiddler from Northern Manitoba, left, and Chas Piper from Ontario, right, recently released a song called “Water Protectors,” which was inspired by 2016 anti-pipeline demonstrations at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota.

A music duo featuring one member from Northern Manitoba recently released a song paying tribute to water protectors at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota who tried to stop construction of an oil pipeline in 2016.

“Water Protectors” by Spirit Trail is not only about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests but also people’s attitudes towards the environment and natural resources, particularly in the Indigenous worldview.

“Water is our lifeblood and it is our responsibility to care for and protect it before it is too late,” says Destiny Fiddler, one-half of Spirit Trail, who is a member of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation at Pukatawagan and grew up in Thompson and Flin Flon. “There’s no time to take lightly the degradation and poisoning of our sacred waters. Where will we be when there’s nothing clean to drink and the medicine won’t grow?”

Chas Piper, who was born in Windsor, Ont. and met Fiddler in 2019 at a tree planting camp near Thunder Bay, says “Water Protectors” was written to inspire the revolutionary response displayed at Standing Rock in Canada and elsewhere around the world.

“Right now the Wet’suwet’en are defending their sacred waters from another pipeline,” he said in a press release. “People need to wake up and realize the fight is theirs … whether they are in a city, on the rez or wherever. There are things we all can do where we are and we have to stand together. We must follow the lead of Indigenous people and protect our Mother Earth.”

After they met and fell in love, Fiddler and Piper headed west, writing songs and busking in the Kootenays and Rocky Mountains before heading northeast to Fiddler’s grandmother’s trapline in Northern Manitoba. They then moved to Saskatoon, where they spent the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic before heading to Kingsville, Ont.

Spirit Trail’s first single “Indian Time,” about their experiences on the trapline, was recorded in September 2020 and released to folk and college radio stations in Canada and the U.S. on Halloween of that year.

“Water Protectors” is available on Spotiy, Soundcloud, Apple Music, Amazon and YouTube.