Winnipeg Band Indian City Walks Beyond a Pandemic with
New Album Titled, “Code Red”
Album conveys hope and need for inclusion, understanding and optimism
“Code Red” is the fourth album from Winnipeg folk-pop collective Indian City. Indian City is led by Vince Fontaine (Anishinaabe), the Juno Award-winning founder of First Nations rock icons Eagle & Hawk, and features acclaimed singers and musicians Don Amero (Cree-Métis), Jeremy Koz (Anishinaabe) and Sandra Sutter (Cree-Métis), as well as Canadian music stars Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), Chantal Kreviazuk and Chris Burke-Gaffney.
“Code Red is a window into the post-Covid world from an Indigenous perspective, conveying hope and the need for inclusion, understanding and optimism,” says Fontaine. “It became a much-used term in 2020, expressing a state of global health emergency during the pandemic; however, in the Indigenous world there has been an ongoing series of Code Reds for decades — if not centuries. This is where the concept and themes for the album emerged.”
“The album’s eight songs were written during the pandemic but this is not a pandemic record — it is not a record about loneliness or isolation or the things that we’ve lost,” says Fontaine. “It is, rather, a call to celebrate old truths that still shine like new and the timeless values that carried through the challenge — wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth. The pandemic offered a chance to strip away the complexities of daily life and refocus on those core values that bind us to each other and to Mother Earth.”
Code Red, the title track with lead vocals by Don Amero, is a call-to-action for people to become citizens of the world while keeping in mind that there is an ongoing Code Red in Indigenous communities. Smile, the first single produced from the album, was released in July. It conveyed lighthearted, positive messages about love, attraction and the beauty of a smile. Storyteller features Sandra Sutter on lead vocals. In Indigenous cultures, storytellers are knowledge keepers — the keepers of life, color and wisdom. The song honors Indigenous storytellers and the importance of all stories.
The Path, featuring Jeremy Koz on lead vocals, debuted on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada on September 30, 2021. It is an exuberant anthem for Indigenous people to stand together on the journey to reconciliation. The healing power of compassion is explored further on ForGiving, which looks to a future in which we will, as Fontaine’s words urge, “start rewriting our collective story by defending love.”
Chris Burke-Gaffney sings on Walk Around The World and Canadian Juno Award Winner Chantal Kreviazuk lends her famously crystalline voice to Wannabe, an open celebration of the Seven Sacred Teachings — a framework for how to live in the world in a good way — that is grounded by the pulse of a beating drum and traditional Indigenous singing.
A standout track, Star People, reflects on the Anishinaabe creation story and journey through life. The song was born on Canada Day 2021, when a text from Fontaine’s longtime friend, Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy, sparked a conversation about the meaning of reconciliation. That discussion blossomed into a collaboration on Star People, a lyrical exploration of Indigenous concepts of existence and belonging. “It’s about our journey today and where we might go tomorrow — it’s a journey of hope,” says Fontaine.