Funeral Lakes 
North American Martyrs 

Self-released • 2024

Funeral Lakes reminds us of the consequences of unchecked colonialism and the urgent need for reconciliation with North American Martyrs.

How can I, as an immigrant who arrived in Canada in 2004, find peace in a country that was stolen? For years, this question has rattled my mind, and I have found myself wrestling with my place in so-called Canada and what it means to reconcile that divide. Listening to the latest Funeral Lakes album, North American Martyrs, struck me deeply, weaving together themes of displacement, identity, capitalism and colonial history. Funeral Lakes—Chris Hemer (he/him) and Sam Mishos (she/they)—hail from Kingston, Ontario, a city steeped in history, where rivers converge and stories intertwine.

Born from Hemer’s thesis project titled The Making of Martyrs: Musicians, Mythmaking, and Counter-Discourse, the album delves deep into the role of cultural production in perpetuating Canadian national myths. These myths become our identity as Canadians. Drawing inspiration from Canadian historian Daniel Francis, Funeral Lakes skillfully navigates the complexities of myth and memory, challenging glorified narratives through their evocative music. From the outset, the opening track, “Echoes,” mirrors my journey—a narrative of continual assimilation in a land where complex historical forces are echoing their burdens to this day. 

The haunting melodies and evocative lyrics of tracks like the titular “North American Martyrs” highlight the album’s mission.  Here, Funeral Lakes critically examines the legacy of the Jesuit missionaries who came to be known as martyrs for their efforts to convert Indigenous peoples in seventeenth-century New France. These songs are not meant to be another voice on a pulpit preaching down on those of us who inhabit this land but are equally an examination of the personal. Hemer was baptized as a Jesuit in childhood, and he does not shy away from reflecting the mirror inwards.

Continuing Conversations

Funeral Lakes embraces folk storytelling traditions and embeds their own twenty-first-century lived experience to make entertaining and inspiring art.


North American Martyrs‘s exploration of colonial missionaries and their violent imposition of beliefs on Indigenous communities resonates with my own awareness of the privilege inherent in my status. It forces me to grapple with the complexities of my identity as both an immigrant and a participant in the ongoing process of colonization. In many ways, daily I benefit from the blood of indigenous peoples. As important as it is for me to uncover the history of my own people in Liberia (a country many people have never heard of), it is just as important to understand the state of this nation. Our collective (un)consciousness is actively called to more than the stories with which we have lulled ourselves to sleep.  This invitation to discomfort is not intended to discourage but rather to empower. Funeral Lakes hopes that by shedding light on the mythological foundations of Canadian history, listeners will be inspired to continue the vital work of unsettling narratives in their own lives and communities. 

Another highlight is “Doctrine of Discovery,” a searing indictment of colonialism and its lasting impact on Indigenous communities. Drawing on historical documents and personal reflection, Funeral Lakes explores the doctrine’s role in justifying land theft, forced assimilation, and cultural genocide. Performed, produced, and recorded in Kingston, Ontario, with contributions from Arden Rogalsky and Michael Broadhead, North American Martyrs is a testament to Funeral Lakes’s commitment to authenticity and artistry. With Jonas Bonnetta’s masterful mixing and Heather Kirby’s impeccable mastering, the album captivates listeners with its raw emotion and undeniable truth.

The album’s final line, “Look what our glory brought,” poignantly reminds us of the consequences of unchecked colonialism and the urgent need for reconciliation. It calls me to action—to acknowledge my own complicity in systems of oppression, listen to the stories of those who have been marginalized outside of my own, and work towards a more just and equitable future. This work will never be finished, and Funeral Lakes has devoted its music to it.

Funeral Lakes has never strayed from musical storytelling and historical analysis; North American Martyrs is a resounding voice in the cry for truth. Each song is meticulously crafted, blending folk, indie rock, and spoken word elements to create a rich and immersive listening experience. The result is a thought-provoking, challenging, and deeply satisfying album.

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