AIRsessions Returns for Fifth Season, Launches New NAC AIRsessions Award

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AIRsessions : By Indigenous, For Indigenous

Founder and curator Ila Barker is launching a new season of AIRsessions free hybrid music mentorship for Indigenous youth and young adults (ages 13-30) in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts.

Artist in Resident Sessions (AIRsessions or just AIR) is a music workshop series focused on community connections, safer space building, and artist mentorship. Now in its fifth season, AIRsessions will feature guest artists in residence who shares their story, craft, and skills alongside lead mentor Barker. Dates, mentors, and additional details will be announced soon on the AIRsessions Facebook and Instagram pages.

New this year is the launch of the NAC AIRsessions Award, a $3,000 award sponsored by the National Arts Centre. Selected by AIRsessions jurors based on applications from program participants, the award is for a young artist who is Indigenous, aged 13-30, for the purpose of studying music, accessing artistic or career mentorship, participating in training or professional development, upgrading instruments and/or equipment, recording a demo, or another approved career-focused activity. Online applications are open until April 7, 2023 at 5PM CT. Click here to apply for the NAC AIRsessions Award

“As AIRsessions enters its fifth year of programming, I’m again amazed by how much the program gets better and bigger with each year,: says Barker. "I’m so excited to share more about the upcoming year and the special additional resources becoming available soon to AIR participants across the nation."

Artist Entrepreneur Barker is of mixed Anishinaabe and settler heritage with roots running deep in the Manitoban prairies. She is a registered member of Berens River First Nation. Barker graduated in 2016 from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts in Conflict Resolution. Barker has over a decade of performance experience under her belt, an EP, and one full-length record released. She has charted on national folk charts and has had multiple number one hits on the Indigenous Music Countdown. “Intuition” off her newly released album Fool Under Water was featured in the latest Travel Manitoba campaign, and was Top 22 of ‘22 on Siruis XM Channel 165.

Founded in 2018, this series was created to address the need for a sustainable, recurring music programming for youth and young adults. Taking a decolonized approach to music knowledge transfer and interaction, the sessions were crafted to allow for vulnerability with the intent to develop a variety of music skills and create art. To find out more information and join the mailing list please contact

The Indigenous Music Development Program at Manitoba Music is a promotional partner for this year's programming. 


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