Aboriginal Artists at the 2009 JUNO Awards

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The Aboriginal Album of the Year category received a lot of profile at the JUNO Awards this past weekend. There was an outstanding Honouring Ceremony, a standing ovation for the category winner and great support from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

The Honouring Ceremony was held for Tracy Bone, Billy Joe Green, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Team Rezofficial, Tagaq and Crystal Shawanda on Saturday afternoon at the Chief Joe Matthias Recreation Centre on Squamish Territory. The event was organized by the Aboriginal Initiatives Committee of the Music from Sea to Sky Host Committee for the 2009 JUNO Awards and included traditional honouring songs and the presentation of blankets and painted hand drums. The Spakwus Slulem were the first to sing and their song accompanied the presentation of the Coast Salish blankets made by Debbie Sparrow. An honour song by Mike Dangeli & Family followed, bringing the drums painted by Mike Dangeli (Nisga’a, Tlingit and Tsimshian Nations) and Don McIntyre (Anishinabe) to life.

The ceremony was quite moving and a couple of the nominees teared up during the honour songs and gift presentation. “The aboriginal honouring celebration was the highlight for me during the Juno weekend festivities. I had a difficult time holding back the tears when I heard the drums,” explains nominee Tracy Bone. “We were all presented with so many beautiful gifts including our own hand made drums with their own names and stories and such amazing artwork! The people gave me strength and made me feel at home. Kudo's out to Elaine Bomberry and the host committee for putting on such a memorable event.”

Later that night, the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie was presented with the JUNO for Aboriginal Album of the Year during the Gala Dinner at the Westin Bayshore Inn in downtown Vancouver. The category was sponsored by APTN, which moved the announcement into a prime position during the Gala, providing extra time for the crowd to further acknowledge Sainte-Marie with one of the nights few standing ovations.

Aboriginal artists were also well represented at JUNOFest during the weekend. On Friday night, Kinnie Starr performed at Bar None and Billy Joe Green closed down the Yale Hotel with a two hour set. Saturday night included gigs for Tracy Bone at the Yale, George Leach at the Backroom Lounge and Tagaq at the Red Room. Crystal Shawanda played “You Can Let Go” at GM Place during the televised award show on Sunday night, while Sainte-Marie presented on of the evenings trophies on the vine-dressed set.

After the televised show, Team Rezofficial and Joey Stylez performed for a loving audience at the Fabric Nightclub in the Gastown district of downtown Vancouver.

Visit the photo gallery at aboriginalmusic.ca for photos from these events.

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