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Breakout Indigenous nominations in the 2024 JUNOS –

February 21st, 2024

“I do remember walking onto that stage and thinking, ‘Don’t mess this up’ and it took me about half the song to truly get in the moment and then, in a blink of an eye, it was over.” —Aysanabee on his 2023 JUNOS performance with Northern Cree.

The JUNOS could be breaking new ground this year with two Indigenous artists nominated in the Songwriter of the Year category.

With artists Aysanabee, Oji-Cree, Sucker Clan of the Sandy Lake First Nation, and William Prince, an Anishinabe from Peguis First Nation, it could mark the first time in nine years that Indigenous artists have been represented in the category. In fact, it could mark the first time ever.

Buffy Sainte-Marie was nominated as Songwriter of the Year in 2016, however, her Indigeneity is now drawn into question. Shania Twain, who won in 2000 and was nominated in 1999 and 2003, claimed Indigeneity but her status comes through adoption by a First Nations father.

“I guess it’s not too surprising,” said Aysanabee about how long it has taken for Indigenous songwriters to get this recognition.

“I think Indigenous people and advocates really pushed really hard to get the contemporary Indigenous category and the traditional ones just so we can get a seat at the table,” he said.

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