The black bear, Sandrine Masse’s quest

The black bear, is the story of encounters: those with others, with nature, with oneself, but also with the Wendat community. It is a love song that Sandrine Masse delivers to her nation with the first extract from her album, Wendat Rap. This piece is also a way for her to assert herself, to finally claim her origins.

It’s part of my identity, explains the 30-year-old singer-songwriter. Wendake has been so important to me, and I want people to know that when I show up.

Wendat Rapit is also to alert people that the Wendat exist, and that Aboriginal people can also look like someone like me, who has blue eyes, a mother from Quebec and a father who has been cut of his heritage. »

A quote from Sandrine Masse

The long way to yourself

Sandrine Masse grew up in Aylmer, Outaouais. After training in music at the University of Montreal in 2014, she wandered to Wendake.

At the start of your twenties, it’s a period when you are looking for yourself, when you ask yourself questions of identityshe says. It was the same for me.

Sandrine Masse always knew she was Wendat. When she was a child, her father did his best to introduce her to certain elements of his culture, but despite his will, her transmission capacities were limited.

My father himself was cut off from these cultural elements when he was young, because his mother could not be proud of it. In those days, we weren’t proud to be aboriginal; we hid it as much as we could. Unfortunately, because of that, my father missed a lot of cultural baggage that he couldn’t pass on to me. In my early twenties, I began to realize that something was missing.

Returned to Wendake, that’s when I understood that if I had answers to find, it was there, in the community. »

A quote from Sandrine Masse

The four years she spent in Wendake were a turning point in her life. It’s a long road that I started there towards cultural reconnection, but also towards identity reconnection at the artistic and spiritual level.she says.

Singer-songwriter Sandrine Masse describes her four years in Wendake as a turning point in her life.

Photo: Courtesy: Dola Communications

Sandrine Masse’s musical universe has been transformed through contact with her community. Suddenly, she wanted to express herself differently artistically.

From an early age, his musical talents allowed him to join a pilot project at the conservatory to train the next generation. Among the instruments offered to her, she chose the viola.

It was an instant hit, a perfect match. It’s super interesting to use it in what I do now. It will cover wider registersexplains the multi-instrumentalist musician, who also plays guitar and piano.

It was when she arrived in Wendake that she turned to singing. She started writing her own pieces and making her first “open mics”.

Her work experience in Nunavik, where she taught music to young Inuit, confirmed her desire to become a singer-songwriter. There, she formed a group with two friends. Their songs, in English and Inuktitut, are occasionally played on local radio.


It was during these four years shared between Wendake and Nunavik that Sandrine Masse wrote most of the songs on her album. Wendat Rap was later composed in Gatineau, where she landed a job teaching music at a high school, in 2018.

While giving a workshop on rapping, she was challenged by her students. They appreciated their teacher’s melodies, but found that she lacked the credibility to teach them rap.

They said to me: “you are not a rapper, you are not going to teach us how to rap”she recalls. I thought they had a good point, so that same evening I decided to write a rap, which I pitched to them the next day.

She took the opportunity to talk about where she came from, about her community, and to give a little history lesson to her students about the Wendat.

It stimulated their curiosity, and it created a connection. I think young people find it interesting to learn more about First Nations… They are really awake, interested, curious. There is an awareness that they have things to learn about it, that there are gaps in this knowledge. It is most encouraging. Plus, they liked the rap!

Produced in haste, the piece went on to undergo several rewrites.

I am still learning about my nation’s history. I wanted it to be as accurate as possible, so I worked with Wendat mentors to make the song reflect our history as much as possible. »

A quote from Sandrine Masse

Asserting yourself gently

Even though it was chosen as the first extract, Wendat Rap is a rather separate work on the album The black bear. His style flow rap contrasts with the folk chords of the other pieces. Its more assertive tone also stands out from the soft poetry of the other songs.

Wendat Rap, it is a position statement, an assertive statement. It’s less me to do thatacknowledges Sandrine Masse. It’s difficult for me to take very strong positions through my songs, to claim things, because I’m still learning. I am in cultural reappropriation.

Her autochthony, she prefers for the moment to express it differently in her music.

I have a universe in my songs, a lexical field. I come back to contact with nature a lot, and there is a somewhat ancestral side to it. I like the story a lot, too. These are all elements that come from my culture, which have been transmitted to me and which are present in my songs.

The style of the artist is well reflected in the room The black bear. Taken from a tale, this song recounts the encounter between a young man and a black bear in the forest. The young man is convinced to see in the animal the reincarnation of his grandmother whom he never knew.

This meeting, between the bear and the man, inspired me the other songs. I found that the black bear personified the encounter with something that we have lost, with ourselves, with our identity, with nature, with the other… »

A quote from Sandrine Masse

This musical foray is also a first contact between Sandrine Masse and her audience, whom she is impatient to meet. She will do so in Quebec, after her training at the National School of Song in Granby, when she will settle permanently in Wendake.

This is where I live, she says. I’m bored and can’t wait to reconnect with the community. To continue my cultural learning, but also to explore the music scene in Quebec. There really is a super interesting musical emergence there. You don’t have to go to Montreal anymore when you’re a singer-songwriter. I’m going to test this to find out if it’s true!

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The black bear, Sandrine Masse’s quest

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