As this editorial is being written, the NHL 100 Classic is playing in the background on TV.

And it just so happens that Bryan Adams is performing between periods at the outdoor hockey game in Ottawa. We don’t know what songs he is singing because the sound is turned down so we can concentrate on work.

But we don’t really need to hear. We will guess Summer of ’69 and some other golden oldies from the peak of his career a quarter of a century ago.

Every time the NHL or the CFL has a big game worthy of musical entertainment it’s virtually always the same. Out comes some safe, family-friendly performer from years past to sing tunes that everyone knows.

Sometimes it works very well, as in Shania Twain’s performance at the Grey Cup game in November. Of course, that could not fail because, you know, it was Shania Twain. The entrance on a dogsled didn’t hurt, either.

Other times such safe performers don’t work very well at all, and it’s just predictable and, worst of all, not particularly entertaining.

We don’t really know about Saturday’s performance by Bryan Adams because, as we already mentioned, we weren’t listening. Perhaps the fact we had no interest in listening says a lot. However, the hand-picked people around the stage were obviously into the music just as they were told to be.

Just once, we would like to see the NHL or the CFL do something imaginative, edgy and with some social purpose, and present a complete show by Indigenous performers.

Just imagine Indigenous drummers, fiddlers, jiggers, hoop dancers, square dancers and singers given a prominent national stage in front of millions of Canadians. We think Canadians would be surprised and a little bit amazed, and we believe more entertained than listening to songs from some aging rock star.

And we even have the perfect singer and song to wrap up the show with an uplifting message for all Canadians – O Siem by Susan Aglukark. (If there is anyone reading this who has never heard O Siem, please get on YouTube and do so immediately.)

Imagine that song of togetherness echoing through a stadium somewhere in Canada, especially the line “We are all family.” It would be inspiring to hear.

Of course, we don’t expect such a show to ever happen.

Such inter-game entertainment is not supposed to be socially relevant or enlightening for people there in person or watching on television. It’s just supposed to be simple entertainment, and the more mass appeal the better.

So we are left with another appearance by Bryan Adams.

Now we really don’t mean to pick on Bryan Adams, and he may have had a performance in Ottawa on Saturday that people will be talking about for years, although we doubt that happened.

However, we do believe that a performance by Indigenous performers can be as exciting and as entertaining as any show by Bryan Adams.

We saw him in concert many years ago, and we’d honestly rather see Indigenous performers any day of the week.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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