Indigenous leaders happy to welcome the JUNOs to Edmonton

Indigenous community leaders were part of the JUNO Awards announcement at Rogers Place in Edmonton Nov. 14, happy to welcome Canada’s noteworthy music makers to Treaty 6 territory when the awards will be held there in March 2023.

“I’m honoured to officially welcome the 52nd JUNO Awards to Treaty 6 territory, the traditional land of our people,” said Treaty 6 Grand Chief George Arcand.

“Music is something that connects us all. Throughout time past, present and future.”

“I think, as part of reconciliation, there's always been a hidden concern about the continuation of bolstering our ability to have song and to be able to really celebrate some of our ceremonies through different ways of practising singing and using the drum. I think the JUNOs give us an opportunity to showcase some of that and to not feel that there’s a stigma that we cannot operate and do these things in an open fashion,” Arcand said.

“I would like to recognize the many Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists across the country who have both shaped and contributed to the beauty of song. In Cree culture, we believe we carry our ancestors with us. I know in my heart that they are celebrating the inclusion of our people, our music, and our ways of knowing and doing these things and our ceremonies.”

Audrey Poitras, president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, shares that sentiment.

“It will be an honour to be involved in hosting Canada’s most prominent music awards and to showcase our Métis culture by sharing our music, dance and history with Canadians in these week-long festivities,” she said. “I’m proud to say the MNA continues to be an eager supporter of the Indigenous music and arts community since both embody our unique cultural identities. For Métis people, fiddle music is a prominent aspect of our contribution to Canada’s musical landscape and, for us, a cultural staple that’s been passed on from generation to generation.” The JUNOs will be held from March 9 to March 13. It’s the first time Edmonton has held the event since 2004, when Alanis Morrisette hosted. This year, a world-renowned Albertan band will be honoured.

“We couldn’t come back to your province without honouring one of the biggest rock bands in the world and they just happen to be from Hanna, Alta.—Nickelback,” said Allan Reid, president and CEO of CARAS/The JUNOs.

Nickelback will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at this year's JUNOs.

Fawn Wood of Saddle Lake Cree Nation, a two-hour drive from Edmonton, was the winner of the JUNOs 2022 inaugural award for Traditional Indigenous Artist or Group.

Wood shared an honour song from her community during today’s announcement. Afterward she shared her thoughts with Windspeaker.com about the importance of Indigenous inclusion in the awards.

“I think in our province, in particular, we have a huge amount of talent that comes out of here, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. They mentioned that Nickelback is going to be playing. And we’ve got people like Brett Kissel, and even in our Indigenous music scene we have so many movers and shakers that came from our province. I think it’s a really awesome thing that we get to come together and showcase and celebrate that.”

“There’s a huge sense of pride… I grew up singing traditional music and it’s a form and a style of music that ran in my family for generations and generations,” Wood said. “I mentioned, when I accepted [the award], that this is the style of music that is the grassroots music of the land and it resonated here for a long time.”

Winning her JUNO last year was the best moment for Wood.

“It was such a surreal feeling knowing that it was an inaugural category, the first time that they were recognizing traditional music. I felt really excited, but not only because I was nominated, but in our community of traditional Indigenous singers we are very much like a family, so I knew a lot of the other nominees. Either way, you’re excited for any one of us to go home with the hardware.”

Wood is now headed to the Native American Music Awards in Niagara this week where she’s been nominated in four categories.

“It’s pretty cool to not only be recognized on our national stage but throughout the whole of what we call Turtle Island, the U.S. and Canada. To be amongst peers and be recognized for the work and the art that we put out there. It’s a huge honour,” Wood says.

“What motivates me to create music, especially as an Indigenous female, is to empower others. To help them find their voice and help them find their pride and strength in who we are and through our identity. … That’s a huge driving force in what I do.”

Windspeaker.com

By Rebecca Medel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com