Friday, September 1, 2017

Labour & Pop Culture: Songs about migrant work in Canada

With the Labour Day weekend upon us, media outlets will be running “The Ten Best Labour Songs” lists. An enduring feature of employment in Canada is migration—workers leaving home to earn a living.

I’m part of a seven-year national study looking at employment-related geographic mobility. I’ve been surprised how many of the songs on my ipod (yes, I still have an ipod…) hit on this theme. Here’s a selection of six songs.

All Hell For a Basement, Big Sugar: A song about an unemployed worker travelling to Alberta for work (possibly Medicine Hat)

Atlantic Blue, Ron Hynes: A moving song about the death of off=shore oil workers in the Ocean Ranger sinking in 1982.

Free in the Harbour, Stan Rogers: A song about the impact of employment-related emigration on the towns left behind in Atlantic Canada.

Four Strong Winds, Ian & Sylvia: An iconic song about immigration to Alberta from “out east” and how it severs relationships.

The Idiot, Stan Rogers: Another song about a migrant whose come to Alberta for economic security at significant personal cost.

Work Away, Classified: A contemporary song about fly-in fly-out workers across Canada and the impact it has on their families.

An interesting omission are Canadian songs about migrant workers from other countries--I'd be happy to have any suggestions in the comment box below.

-- Bob Barnetson

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