November 13, 2014 – Cockburn also continues to lend his voice and name to causes he feels strongly about. Earlier this year, he became involved with the Collateral Damage Project, a cause concerning suicide rates among men in Native or First Nations communities. Cockburn was approached by the organization’s founder Scott Chisholm about bringing awareness to the organization and doing a Public Service Announcement regarding it.
For a long time when I was younger all the people I knew who died were suicides,” he says. “There weren’t that many, maybe half a dozen people I was acquainted with who killed themselves. I’m not sure if I totally agree with the negativity of suicide if you are a cancer victim or if you’re terminally ill with anything and looking forward to years of suffering. As long as it doesn’t come back on your family.
“The big problem with suicide is in all but those circumstances it’s a terribly selfish act. Some of that made it seem like something to get involved with. And, of course, in the Native communities where suicide is a huge social issue, not just a matter of individuals, it’s kind of epidemic. So there’s a real point to try to head it off in that setting too.”
May 3, 2013 – Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn was at McMaster University Tuesday night to take part in a celebration of his recent donation of a huge chunk of his personal archives to McMaster University.
It’s hard to be humble when one of Canada’s top academic institutions enshrines your life’s work alongside collections representing the careers of philosopher Bertrand Russell, and authors Farley Mowat, Margaret Laurence and Pierre Berton.
But Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn managed to be just that Tuesday night at a reception to honour the donation of his personal notebooks, correspondence, recordings, photos and memorabilia to the McMaster University archives.
Cockburn, 67, then heard university provost David Wilkinson tell the 180 invited guests and dignitaries assembled there what a significant gift the collection represents to the institution.
When called to the stage to say a few words, Cockburn bashfully downplayed the importance of his gift.
“I want to thank McMaster University for graciously accepting all my crap,” joked Cockburn, who is known almost as much for his social activism as for his music.
Cockburn spoke for about 10 minutes, relating anecdotes from a career that spans five decades. He told the audience about the time he brought a shoulder bag filled with unarmed landmines to an anti-mine news conference at Parliament Hill, much to the chagrin of the Centre Block security guards.
“My major regret is that I couldn’t include those landmines in the donation to McMaster,” Cockburn deadpanned. “But I had to give them back.”
During the reception, several artists performed versions of Cockburn’s songs. The rock group Of Gentlemen and Cowards, all of whom are former McMaster students, sang an acoustic version of Wondering Where the Lions Are.
Wilson and Linden are members of the group Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and are longtime friends and collaborators of Cockburn.
The Cockburn collection is stored in 63 boxes of varying size in the basement of McMaster’s Mills Memorial Library. It includes correspondence from notable figures such as former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, former cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy and John Crosbie, environmentalist David Suzuki, Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and singer Anne Murray.
The collection also includes fan letters, photos, tour shirts, recordings, videos and guitars, all carefully catalogued in a 64-page finders’ guide for researchers.
The core of the archives, however, is found in 32 personal notebooks, in which Cockburn wrote many of his songs, as well as snippets of poetry and day-to-day observations.
The notebooks, which cover the years 1969 to 2002, offer insight into how Cockburn worked his songwriting craft.
“That process is documented in the mongrel assortment of stationery that is now in the hands of McMaster,” he said.
1 February 2013 – TORONTO – The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and Mrs. Ruth Ann Onley are pleased to host a DIAMOND JUBILEE GALA to present Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals to members of the Order of Canada residing in Ontario, members of the Order of Ontario and other deserving individuals. This will draw to a close Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Year, on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, the 61st anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the Throne.
In keeping with the tradition of honouring milestone years of service, the commemorative medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne. The medal serves to honour the contributions and achievements made by Canadians from all sectors of society.
Their Honours will be joined by a number of prominent Canadians who will also act as distinguished medal presenters to ensure that each of their peers receives his or her medal in a dignified and meaningful way.
Following the medal presentations, guests will enjoy a short performance by some of Canada’s best known performers, including Tafelmusik, and Michael Burgess, Liona Boyd, Bruce Cockburn and Tom Cochrane, themselves members of the Order of Canada.