On the 7th month anniversary of the tragedy that hit Beirut on August 4th, 2020, Lebanese-Canadian singer Nicole Arrage premiered a heartfelt tribute to her homeland, Lebanon.
Nicole Arrage is a singer-songwriter born and living in Montreal, Quebec, who says she has 100% Lebanese blood. Like many Lebanese people living abroad, she felt helpless after the blast and knew that she had to do something for her people.
Not only was she devastated at the scenes she saw on the news, but she was affected on a personal level as her grandparents’ home in Achrafieh sustained severe damage.
“The explosion shook everybody terribly. Seeing my mother’s childhood neighborhood become a war zone, changed the way I see the world forever. Unable to go to Lebanon, I had to find a way to help from a distance,” she told The961.
Ever since the incident, she immediately set up a GoFundMe campaign and has been working nonstop to raise funds for Beirut.
Additionally, in September, she organized a concert in Montreal donating all proceeds to the NGOs Communauté des Disciples du Verbe (CDV) de Kesrouane and Act for Lebanon.
“So far, with the GoFundMe campaign and the fundraiser, we were able to raise over 7000 CAD (over 5,500 USD) which we then converted into USD to facilitate the transfer,” she said.
Her activism has also landed her an interview on Radio-Canada.
Now, she is performing a stripped-down version of Joseph Attieh’s Sallou La Beirut (Pray for Beirut) in hopes to shed light on the oppression that continues to take place in Lebanon.
Arrage’s performance is a part of musician Guillaume Dion’s multicultural album Trans Portée, which features songs from 7 different cultures. Arrage is, of course, representing Lebanon.
In her striking music video, where she sings on a rooftop of downtown Montreal, she puts in comparison the skyline of Montreal and scenes from the city of Beirut to shed the light on the major differences between life and security in the two countries.
She includes scenes from the day of the blast in contrast with the peaceful skyline of Montreal in the background, where the video was filmed.
“We grew up hearing stories of the war, how our family hid in caves, got their video store bombed, escaped, fought, got injured (some didn’t make it), rebuilt.. more than once,” Arrage told us.
“Being born a Canadian citizen is the biggest sacrifice and gift our parents did to give us a life away from war, a privilege to get to shape our future without ever getting to live the horrors they survived,” she explained.
“The music video depicts this visually: the Montreal skyline will never look like a war zone, and this is a privilege we need to acknowledge. Every day, the Lebanese people are faced with more oppression. When will they get the justice they deserve?”
“As a Lebanese living in Canada watching from overseas, it is inevitable that we feel guilty to have this privilege that so many deserve but cannot obtain. It has become our mission to help as much as we can from a distance,” she expressed.
“I have no doubt that Lebanon will rebuild, but for that to happen, a leader from our generation needs to be in power. How long will that take? God only knows,” she said.