Musical therapy has had a profound impact on MacKenzie’s life. Through songwriting and guitar playing, MacKenzie has found a new method of coping with the trauma that he and other veterans experienced during their time at war, and also a way to shed light on a tremendously overlooked issue in veterans’ affairs.
Having teamed up with multiple award-winning artist Dennis Ellsworth (Gord Downie, Joel Plaskett, Drive-By Truckers) and Adam Gallant to bring his music to life, MacKenzie will be releasing his first ever single, followed by his debut album, all in support of destigmatizing the conversation surrounding veteran suicide.
During his nine years in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment which included a deployment to Afghanistan, MacKenzie lost 10 of his comrades, six of whom died in one day, and three of which were his roommates. Following his return to Canada, MacKenzie lost more colleagues and friends to suicide than he did during his own deployment.
A true leader in veterans affairs in PEI and across the country, MacKenzie was invited to hold a one-on-one meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019 to discuss veteran mental health and the ongoing crises Canadian veterans face after returning home from war. Now using his voice through music, MacKenzie’s upcoming single aims to shed light on those who lose the battle of war at home.
Lanterns is the first single off of MacKenzie’s debut album, The Guardian Angel Platoon, set for release on November 10, 2021. The physical album will be sold with a commemorative pin inspired by the design of a military-used lantern, which MacKenzie hopes can be worn alongside the poppy in honour of all those killed by war, both at home and abroad. Soldier On, a national Canadian Armed Forces program designed to help veterans with their recovery, will be supporting and distributing MacKenzie’s release within the veteran community.
A slow-folk ballad with a soft, local inspired melody, Lanterns is a haunting reminder that wars do not end on the battlefield. The after effects of war, both physical and mental, take an astronomical toll on veterans, yet the loss of veteran lives at home is rarely discussed.
“When a soldier dies on the battlefield we fly our flags at half mast, we drive them down the ‘highway of heroes’ and pass hundreds, if not thousands, of people showing their respect and saying goodbye. We name streets, bridges, ships and parks after them. Yet when our country loses one of its heroes to the invisible wounds of war we do not honour them. We simply let them disappear in the dark.”
Having discovered his own musical talent through healing, MacKenzie’s Lanterns is a beautifully written ode to those who fell silently. With poignant lyrics, the expertise of local talent, and a newly discovered passion for music, Lanterns is the much-needed musical beginning to a much larger conversation.
“It seems no one cares to honour the ones we lose to the war once they’ve laid down their guns.”
Lanterns will be available everywhere on October 15.