‘An Act of Recovery and Defiance’: Rising Believe Star Steps Into a New Era

For the singer-songwriter believes Siibii, changing his name and reclaiming his indigenous identity feels good.

“With my name Eenou, I feel much better equipped. I feel pride and confidence,” said the 22-year-old artist from Montreal from the Mistissini community of northern Quebec Cree.

They used to perform under their birth name Angel Baribeau. On Monday, they released their first video as Siibii, a word believed to mean “river.” Siibii also intends to legally change her name to Siibii Petawabano, the Cree last name of her mother.

“It feels genuine, it feels so lovely and it feels like an act of recovery and defiance,” they said.

Siibii identifies as trans, queer, and non-binary and uses the pronouns they/they.

First vulnerable version

The name of the song I AND and Siibii said that making it the first release on an upcoming self-titled album was a conscious choice to be more vulnerable in their art than ever before.

“I wanted a vulnerable look at Siibii and especially my mental illness and reflect on my coping mechanisms,” they said.

Since the release of their debut EP, For the ones I love (d) In 2020, the 22-year-old has been winning over fans and winning awards with her impressive vocals and lyrics.

In 2021, they were Canada’s Walk of Fame RBC Emerging Musicians Program grand prize winners and won a Canadian Young Songwriters Award, presented by the SOCAN Foundation, for their song love is upstream.

This year, they placed second in CBC Music’s Searchlight competition.

In 2021, Siibii was the RBC Emerging Musicians Program grand prize winner of Canada’s Walk of Fame and won a Young Canadian Songwriters Award, presented by the SOCAN Foundation, for his song Love is up the River. (Nicolas Gouin)

Dropping her birth name of Angel and now performing and recording as Siibii is an important step in shedding colonial trauma, they say.

“I realized that I was uncomfortable with my name because it’s biblical,” Siibii said.

gookum eva

“Things my own blood and my family members have had to survive and how a religion became a weapon for them,” they said.

Siibii is very close to his gookum. [grandmother]Eva, a devout Christian, who went to residential school.

Eva only shared one story about her time at residential school, about a girl and fellow student who stole cake to share with hungry children after the nuns put them to bed.

“She would laugh [and say] ‘oh, it was silly of her to go and steal cake,’ but for me the lesson of that story was ‘oh, a brave girl broke the rules so she could help people who were starving,'” Siibii said. , adding that the decision to sing under the name Eenou is part of the work that her grandmother did.

“For me, that really means being proud to be Eenou. Something that is very important to me is representation. And for me that is representing the Eenou youth of my nation,” Siibii said.

love is upstream

As Siibii’s star continues to rise, they say their connection to the traditional Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee keeps them grounded.

“I had aunts and gookums and someone’s uncle who would come up to me and say what a song did for them or what a song meant to them, and I think to me that feels more genuine. It feels more lovely,” Siibii. she said.

Siibii will also be the featured artist at CBC North’s Cree Unit Anniversary, taking place on November 24 in Montreal. Cree Radio is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and Cree Television is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

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