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'The perfect way to honour her': Tribute to Joni Mitchell brings Saskatoon together Print-ready version

The event saw two plaques, one on each side of the river, unveiled for music legend Joni Mitchell

by Matt Olson
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
June 10, 2018

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The threat of thunderstorms couldn't keep the residents of Saskatoon away from finally honouring one of their greatest music icons.

Two plaques were dedicated to Joni Mitchell in Saskatoon on Sunday. One was in front of the Broadway Theatre, near the former Louis Riel Coffee House (now Calories) where she played some of her earliest professional performances.

The other was downtown at River Landing to celebrate the naming of the Joni Mitchell Promenade along the river, though the speeches were moved indoors due to the threat of a storm.

Sharolyn Dickson, one of Mitchell's good friends who spoke on her behalf, said she couldn't imagine a better way for the city to pay Mitchell tribute.

"It's absolutely huge. It's something that's been eating at me for such a long time, that we haven't been able to do this," Dickson said.

The plaque unveilings on Sunday ended a week of celebrating Mitchell that began with the University of Saskatchewan awarding her an honorary degree on Monday.

At the ceremony at River Landing, Harry Lafond with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner commemorated Mitchell with a Saulteaux name from the Yellow Quill First Nation.

Dickson said Mitchell felt "truly honoured" by the many celebrations on her behalf.

"For them to find the perfect way to honour her, has just meant the world to her," Dickson said.

Tessera Nova came out to the unveiling on Broadway, and said she planned to walk the bridge from Broadway down to River Landing - a path Mitchell is said to have taken many times while living in Saskatoon.

Nova said she wanted to come out to be a part of a celebration for a woman that's due for it.

"She's written some of the best music ever, and I think we just need to appreciate all she's done through her career," Nova said.

Mitchell, 74, was not able to attend the event, but the proceedings were streamed live to the public and to Mitchell.

Many speakers at both ceremonies used the live stream to speak directly to Mitchell to give thanks for her work. Mayor Charlie Clark said he couldn't believe he would be able to address Joni in his speech.

"By naming this promenade and unveiling these plaques, we today both pay tribute to Joni and the remarkable contribution she has made to people around the world, and we create a window for the generations to come," Clark said.

Fans of Mitchell who wanted to show their appreciation more directly were given that chance.

Noel Labrash spoke directly to Mitchell through the live stream camera. He said afterwards that he went to Aden Bowman Collegiate at the same time Mitchell did, and he remembers going to one of her first concerts at the Louis Riel Coffee House.

"She has done such incredible artistic work," Labrash said. "She's had lots of problems in her life, and she's dealt with them and still has a magnificent persona. God bless."

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Added to Library on June 11, 2018. (4517)


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