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First Nation couple shares their musical journey to inspire people

“When she walked in, everything just kinda blurred out and I just focused on her the whole time,” said Karmen Omeasoo about meeting his wife for the first time.

Karmen Omeasoo, also known as Hellnback, is a hip-hop artist from Samson Cree Nation in Alberta. He is one of the founding members of the group “War Party,” established in 1995.

“We (War Party) had to break the market and we had to make the market, because there were no native rappers before,” said Hellnback.

The band really blew up when they started making music videos for their songs, and soon enough, they had shows getting booked left and right.

“Coming from the reservation, we wanted to prove to people that it can happen,” he said. “We turned our hobby into a lifestyle, and that lifestyle into a movement.”

Hellnback met his wife, Lisa Muswagon, in the audience of one of their concerts when the band came to Winnipeg to perform back in the day. Muswagon is a contemporary hand drum singer and songwriter from Nakoda Cree member of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, or Cross Lake, in Northern Manitoba. She started playing at a young age after her dad gave her the instrument as a Christmas gift and later decided to explore singing and writing. After her cousin passed away from kidney failure, Muswagon decided to go back to university and start working and producing her first album at the same time.

“We grew up very closely when I lived back home in my community, so to have a loss like that was tremendous for me,” she said.

Hellnback’s father also suffered from the same condition, which led him to be raised by his older brother. His brother became his role model and introduced him to the music world. Now, Hellnback himself was diagnosed with kidney failure in July of 2019. The family decided it was important to share their journey with their friends and fans.

“We wanted to educate people and bring more awareness,” he said. “It’s not a death sentence, and we want people to understand that.”

The couple has been using social media to help spread the message, both about health concerns and the musical challenges Indigenous communities face. They’ve been getting a lot of support from younger activists on TikTok, who are slowly helping society change its mindset on several issues.

“We just have to continue to trailblaze and make way for our upcoming generation, because they are loud,” said Muswagon.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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