In regards to the recent controversy over the Indigenous Music Awards:
I would like to thank the people that have brought this to my attention. I will be honest in saying that I did not know about this issue until very recently. What I found was something that does not sit right with me.
As a Cree musician that has been largely isolated from Indigenous culture, I barely know enough about myself, and what my connection to Indigenous spirituality and culture means to me. I was not given the opportunity to grow up that way. And in many ways that saddens me.
So in the same way, I do not know nearly enough about Inuit spirituality, culture and customs. However with this very limited knowledge that I do have, I can see that this nomination of Connie LeGrande for her album at the Indigenous Music Awards that uses appropriating aspects of Inuit culture is wrong.
When we nominate a work of art, like an album, for an award such as this, what we are saying is that this is a piece of art worthy of public recognition. When you, as an organization, nominate an album that features cultural appropriation, then you are saying that yes, this is okay. Yes, this is worthy of public recognition. This needs to change.
I know that we are not all the same. I think that sentiment is a colonial sentiment in and of itself. I do not agree with where the Indigenous Music Awards is going with their most recent statement, it feels that the concerns of the Inuit people that have come forward are being brushed off. That is not okay with me.
I would like to thank Courteney Morin for bringing this to my attention. I need to do more hard work in figuring these things out myself before getting publicly called out for not addressing it. I am not an authority on this subject and I will definitely not pretend to be, but I cannot allow myself to stand idly by on this matter.
On that note, I will be withdrawing my nomination for Best Pop Album from the Indigenous Music Awards this year until something concrete is done by the Indigenous Music Awards to address this, and until the nomination of Connie LeGrande’s album featuring culturally appropriative throat singing is withdrawn.
This is my first ever nomination for an Indigenous Music Award, and although what it would mean for me is important to me, my sense of what is wrong and what is right, overrides any gain in my music career I might have received. I hope that my community, friends, family and fans will stand with me on this decision.
I challenge all of my fellow non-Inuit nominees to show your solidarity with Inuit music and Inuit artists and do the same. They deserve to be heard and supported. They deserve the spotlight. They deserve a platform. They deserve nominations for the amazing work that they are creating. Cultural appropriation never deserves the limelight.