Music has the ability to connect people, but in some cases, it can cause conflict.
Small Town Artillery (STA) is a rock band from the Kootenays in British Columbia and is currently on a cross-Canada tour.
The band wanted to stop in as many small towns as possible and Kindersley, Sask., seemed like the perfect place to perform.
“I found the Norman Ritchie Community Centre and got ahold of them and we started to have some good talks,” STA lead guitarist Tom van Deursen said.
“They liked the music, I liked the venue and it sounded like the show had legs so we went ahead.”
A few weeks ago, the venue reached out to STA with concerns about some of the messages in their songs.
“Our band does have some political messages to it, especially coming from the West Coast. We are involved in the Wetʼsuwetʼen strong movement,” van Deursen said.
Canadians hold different points of view on the Wetʼsuwetʼen protests, and the community centre’s management didn’t think the band’s political messaging would sit well with people in Kindersley.
It was agreed the band wouldn’t play any political songs and the show would be more about the music, but there was still backlash. Both the venue and STA received angry emails from people in Kindersley who didn’t want the band to perform.
The venue explained why it cancelled the show in a Facebook post, stating things went “the opposite of what we had hoped to achieve”.
Kindersley Mayor Rod Perkins said he understood where the concern from people in the town came from.
“Our farmers and our oil people having their livelihoods threatened on a daily basis. That was kind of where I came from all of this,” Perkins said.
Perkins and van Deursen are open to talking to each other and think common ground can be found.
“I have friends that work rigging up north. We have coffee and we have beer together,” van Deursen said.
“I want to know how they feel about it and they want to know how I feel … and to me, it’s about having a conversation.”
STA said they look forward to their two other Saskatchewan shows this spring in North Battleford and Nipawin.