TAIWANfest 2022: Taiwanese band Kanatal makes Indigenous connections in Canada

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      When the Indigenous Taiwanese band Kanatal appeared on the cover of the Straight last month, it came near the beginning of their two-month trip to Canada.

      Little did the four band members know then that it would lead to some memorable collaborations with Indigenous musicians in Canada.

      At the Mission Folk Festival, they met members of Good Medicine Songs/Éy St’elmexw St’elt’ílém, who create bilingual songs in Halq’eméylem and English. And on August 30, they’re going to get together again to record two songs in the studio.

      According to TAIWANfest organizer Charlie Wu, one of them will include Halq’eméylem and four Indigenous languages from Taiwan.

      Kanatal’s four members—Masaw Ali, Suana Emuy Cilangasay, Abus Tanapima, and Vangacu Kalevuwan (photographed above) also collaborated with Colombian Indigenous musician Beny Esguerra at a Small World Music event in Toronto. That was followed by a visit to the 34th annual Three Fires Homecoming Pow Wow and Traditional Gathering in Hagersville, Ontario.

      Then on August 23, Kanatal was in Brantford, Ontario, where they visited the Woodland Cultural Centre. It houses more than 50,000 artifacts in its Indigenous-managed museum.

      Learn more about Kanatal in this 14-minute video.

      The band’s name, Kanatal, means “island” in the Amis Indigenous language of Taiwan. Two members, Cilangasay and Tanapima, are of Amis heritage.

      Cilangasay also traces his roots to the Sakizayan people and Tanapima is also Bunun, whereas Ali has Atayal ancestry and Kalevuwan is Paiwan.

      At 8 p.m. on September 3, Kanatal will play a free concert on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of TAIWANfest. Expect them to perform their only English-language song, “Peace”, which decries greed and promotes conservation.

      “Canada is very multicultural,” Cilangasay told the Straight through a translator in advance of Kanatal’s gig at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival last month. “So even though everyone comes from different places and has their own musical experiences, there’s still harmony because they are performing here on the same land in the same space.”