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Three Little Birds take on the Ottawa Folk Festival and Israeli apartheid

Photo by KayCie Gravelle

THREE LITTLE BIRDS DON’T shy away from controversy.

Since the release of their self-titled album in 2012, the band—made up of Erin Saoirse Adair and University of Ottawa students Angela Schleihauf and Amelia Leclair—have received media attention for their song “Apartheid.”

“The song had been around for four years before any real controversy had happened,” said Schleihauf.

The song was written in response to Carleton University president Roseann Runte’s actions in support of the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza. During Israel Apartheid Week 2009, a poster depicting an illustration of an Israeli helicopter dropping a bomb on a Palestinian child in Gaza was banned by the university. In 2010, information was released linking the Carleton University Retirement Plan with corporations that fund Israeli weaponry and the construction of the separation barrier, also known as the Apartheid Wall.

The song features lyrics like, “The truth was bent when children died in Holy Land,” “We’ll censor reality and call it the path to equality,” and “Share your thoughts, speak your mind, defend your stance on Palestine.”

After the album’s release in 2012, CTV Morning Live featured the song as part of a promotion for the band’s performance at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Pro-Israel groups—like Shalom Life— have since criticized the song and the band.

In support of their stance, Three Little Birds have also signed onto the Ottawa Cultural Boycott of Israel—an initiative to encourage both musicians and cultural workers to boycott companies who support or fund Israeli apartheid.

When they’re not stirring up controversy, the members work hard to balance music and student-life. Though this proves to be difficult at times, it is ultimately rewarding for Schleihauf.

“It’s the learning process of being a musician,” she said.

Three Little Birds will be performing at the Ottawa Folk Festival on Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the Tartan Homes stage.

“We’re very excited, especially since it is a local festival that is around our specific genre,” Schleihauf said.

This performance will be the last one for the next few months while Leclair is on exchange in Tunisia, but the band hopes to play at the newly reopened Café Nostalgica later in the school year.

Students can purchase discounted tickets for the Ottawa Folk Festival through the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). 



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