Indigenous Artist Jeremy Dutcher Delivers Moving Reconciliation Speech At Junos

Wolostoq singer/songwriter Jeremy Dutcher, took home his first ever Juno Award on Saturday night during the Juno Gala dinner.

He earned the Indigenous Music Album of the Year award for his critically-acclaimed album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonaw (2018).

During his acceptance speech, Dutcher, 28, called out the prime minister on his supposed lack of effort to reconcile Indigenous communities with the rest of Canada.

“Mr. Trudeau,” he said. “A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like pipelines, and a nation-to-nation relationship does not look like sending militarized police force into unceded territory.

“I hope to continue to share and use this platform to tell truth,” he continued.

Before he could finish, the speech was cut off and he was cued to leave the stage by music.

Fortunately for Dutcher, Hamilton-based rockers the Arkells invited him back to the stage later on. Instead of making any kind of speech, the Arkells gave their time to Dutcher and his message of building “nation-to-nation relationships.”

Jeremy Dutcher wins the Indigenous Music Album of the Year for 'Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa' during the Juno Awards Gala in London, Ont., on March 16, 2019.
Jeremy Dutcher wins the Indigenous Music Album of the Year for 'Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa' during the Juno Awards Gala in London, Ont., on March 16, 2019. — Lars Hagberg /AFP/Getty Images

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With their latest and highly-regarded album Rally Cry (2018), the five-piece took home the award for Best Rock Album.

“There’s been so much wisdom shared on the stage tonight,” said Arkells frontman Max Kerman, “but our friend Jeremy didn’t get a chance to finish. So he’s gonna finish the night as he should.”

“And don’t cut off the f**king… don’t start the music,” added Kerman, 25. “He’s gonna go as long as he wants, okay?”

“This is what giving space holds like,” said Dutcher before thanking the band.

“To my manager, I’m sorry: I have joined the Arkells,” he joked. “They just have a better rider, and it’s an honour to be the sixth member. [Laughs] Anyway…” he added, before finishing his emotional speech.

“Reconciliation is a lofty goal. It’s a dream. It doesn’t happen in a year. It takes time. It takes stories. It takes shared experience. It takes music… I have hope that we can come to right relations with each other,” he continued, “I have to.”

“If we’re not on the same page, at least we’re in the same book,” he added.

Dutcher ended his speech with some words spoken in his native tongue, Maliseet.

“When you lead us, think of all of us,” he said. “For the ones yet born, may that be the truth. Thank you,” he concluded.

Arkells singer Max Kerman performs during the Juno Music Awards at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., on March 17, 2019.
Arkells singer Max Kerman performs during the Juno Music Awards at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., on March 17, 2019. — Lars Hagberg / AFP/Getty Images

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After winning the Polaris Music Prize in 2018, this is Dutcher’s next big win and major form of recognition in the Canadian music industry.

He beat out a number of other artists, including Elisapie, Leonard Sumner, Northern Cree and the Snotty Nose Rez Kids.

WATCH: Jeremy Dutcher’s award-winning mission to save Indigenous language through music

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Read Jeremy Dutcher’s original speech in full, below:

Psi-te npomawsuwinuwok, kiluwaw yut (All my people, this is for you). Okay Canada, I’ve got 60 seconds so let’s get down to this. Junos, thank you. My team, thank you. My mother, koselmol komac (I love you very much). My family, I love you all, so much. I want all the other nominees in this category to stand up please. Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Elisapie, Leonard Sumner.

All of your work changes this place. It deserves to be considered outside of this category, because our music is not niche, our music is saying something. I love you all, thank you so much for the art that you make — I’ll thank you all in person later.

I don’t know how many more times they’re gonna let me do this, so Justin… Mr. Trudeau. A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like pipelines. A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like sending militarized police force into unceded territory, and a nation-to-nation relationship does not look like, in 2019, our communities still under boiled-water advisory.

This means so much to me. I hope to continue to share and use this platform to tell the truth. We can all do better.”

Dutcher is expected to start work on his sophomore album, the followup to Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonaw, in the next year.

The Arkells pose in the winners' room during the 2019 Juno Awards at London Convention Centre on March 17, 2019, in London, Ont.
The Arkells pose in the winners' room during the 2019 Juno Awards at London Convention Centre on March 17, 2019, in London, Ont. — Isaiah Trickey/Getty Images

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The Arkells were fortunate enough to take home not only Rock Album of the Year — beating out Monster Truck, Three Days Grace, The Sheepdogs and The Trews — but also the Group of the Year award.

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You can find the full list of Juno Award winners and nominees in the main categories here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

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