Toronto Mike

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Today is our National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and that got me thinking about the first indigenous person I ever knew. Buffy Sainte-Marie was on my favourite show as a toddler and young boy. She appeared on Sesame Street from 1975-1981, and I loved her.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2022

Barry Witkin, co-owner of The Purple Onion, a coffee house at 35 Avenue Road from 1960-65, shared a fantastic story about Buffy Sainte-Marie in episode 813 of Toronto Mike'd. Barry told us Buffy wrote "Universal Soldier" in the basement of The Purple Onion.

In Buffy's own words:

I wrote 'Universal Soldier' in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in the early sixties. It's about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.

Buffy's Universal Soldier would go on to be a hit for Donovan, and has also been covered by The Highwaymen, Glen Campbell, Chumbawamba and several others. But did you know Jan Berry of Jan and Dean released a reply in song in 1965 entitled "The Universal Coward?"

Buffy is frequently cited on Toronto Mike'd, not only because she was my second mother in the late 70s, but because she was conspicuous by her absence on "Tears Are Not Enough." As we learned from Terry David Mulligan in episode 992, Buffy bailed.

Here's one final fun fact while I'm writing about Buffy... In 1983, she became the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar. Her song "Up Where We Belong", co-written for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, won both the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 55th Academy Awards and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

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