The MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba was the setting for the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards (APCMA 2013) main event, televised by APTN. Thousands of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from across Canada celebrated the brilliant hope of Aboriginal music. The Red Carpet saw the arrival of the evening’s nominees and winners on a hot and beautiful Winnipeg afternoon.
With the media daily bringing distressing news of oppression towards Aboriginal people, the sound of drums, guitars, keyboards, and beautiful voices were good medicine for the crowd in Winnipeg. Aboriginal survival and resurgence as the fasting growing ethnic group in Canada has come with a song.
Lorne Cardinal, co-emcee for the evening, revealed the dignity you sacrifice to be a comedic performer by entering as a crazy red-headed golfer. The strained laughter became less noticeable as Lorne’s acting bull-dozed him to the forefront. Later in the show he hammed it up with the audience and the ndn humour connected more naturally.
The night featured very talented, eclectic and moving performances. Country, blues, rock, folk, Gospel, Metis jigging, an inspired cello, pow wow drums and dancers and the Pow Wow vibe played well with the co-emcee Ruben Littlehead. Add to this the theatrics of shooting flames and smoke enhanced lighting and you had a very satisfying show for the senses.
Lorne Cardinal made a joke about his Aboriginal acting and fears of it being outsourced to India. This paved the way for a speech by Manitoba Deputy Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Eric Robinson, who was cheered-on heartily by this largely Manitoban crowd. He highlighted the Idle No More movement, the nutritional experiments on Aboriginal people, and the need to extend the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also mentioned the recent gathering of Premiers in Niagara-on-the-Lake that called on the Federal Government to call an inquiry into the more than 600 missing/murdered Aboriginal women. Hopefully this voice is listened to behind Government doors.
The acceptance speeches were for the most part short and sincere, but then something else made them memorable: Derek Miller gave a shout out to one of his racing career sponsors, Red Star Toilets! The country musician Ray St. Germain, was presented with a APCMA Lifetime Achievement Award and was genuinely surprised with the appearance of nine members of his musical family on stage. He proceeded to sing of his Metis pride and history.
Being an Aboriginal person in Canada is a mixed bag of experiences, some good, many bad, and a few truly horrible, but for a few hours this weekend it was truly a “good day to be Indigenous!”
by Adrian Jacobs | @Ganosono