The sixth annual Celebration of Nations showcased its fourth annual Outstanding Achievement Awards. These awards were designed to reflect the artistic and intellectual programming that has come to define and distinguish this innovative Indigenous expressive culture event.
“To ensure the objectivity and strengthen the credibility of the Outstanding Achievement Awards, this year the process transitioned to peer group nominations and selections,” explained Celebration of Nations Artistic Producer Tim Johnson.
“As a result, previous recipients made the nominations and voted for the award recipients. And they did an extraordinary job. It gives us great pleasure to announce the 2022 Celebration of Nations Outstanding Achievement Awards.”
The 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award Winners are: Outstanding Achievement Award for Visual Arts – Christi Belcourt
The Celebration of Nations Outstanding Achievement Award for Visual Arts is bestowed upon Indigenous artists who produce culturally based and inspired art that reveals
thoughtful conceptualization, explores meaningful subject matter, evokes feelings and emotions, resonates with appealing aesthetics and composition, and is exemplary of technical skill. As one of the most prominent Indigenous artists in the country, Christie Belcourt’s paintings are housed in the permanent collections of the Gabriel Dumont Institute, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of History, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and in the Parliament.
Outstanding Achievement Award for Performing Arts – Tom Wilson
As a musician and songwriter whose work goes back to The Florida Razors in the early 1980s and Junkhouse and the Rodeo Kings in the 1990s, to the solo albums Planet Love and Dog Years in the 2000s, to taking on the fictional moniker of Lee Harvey Osmond for the production of his 2020 JUNO Award- winning album Mohawk, in the category of Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, this artist has earned his credentials many times over.
Perhaps it is synergistic, his taking on a new character and name for his last album, given that it wasn’t until mid-life that he learned the parents who raised him were not his birth parents, but that, in fact, he was adopted and his biological parents were Mohawk from the Kahnawake Territory.
“My music and my art is a continuation of my long way home. It is my way of showing honour and respect to a culture that I’m just shaking hands with,” says Tom Wilson.
Outstanding Achievement in Intellectual Advancement – Kahente Horn-Miller
As associate professor in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton
University, Kahente Horn-Miller’s works have centred on the development of Haudenosaunee-specific research and pedagogical practices. Her research interests include Indigenous methodologies, Indigenous women, identity politics, colonization, Indigenous governance, and consensus-based decision making.
Her governance work and community-based research involves interpreting Haudenosaunee culture and bringing new life to old traditions. Her performance piece, We are Her and She is Us, is a modern telling of the Haudenosaunee story of creation that centres on Sky Woman and her fall to earth.
Outstanding Achievement for Language and Culture – Tom Porter
For a lifetime of service to the people, of teaching Haudenosaunee philosophy, principles, values, morals, and traditions, and for being the former director of the Akwesasne Freedom School would have been enough qualification for him to earn this award. However, as an organizer of the historic White Roots of Peace, the traditional Indigenous educational caravan that launched from Akwesasne and traveled to Indigenous communities all across the United States and Canada during the 1970s, Tom Porter became extremely well known and in demand for his compelling and motivational oratory filled with poignant lessons, instructions, guidance, and love.
Outstanding Achievement for Empathic Tradition – Diane Longboat
Diane Longboat is a professional educator with a graduate degree in education who has lectured and taught at universities across Canada and at national and international conferences on self-healing, personal transformation, and spiritual renewal as the guiding force for achieving individual health, family health, community health, and responsible nation building.
Outstanding Achievement for the Two Row Alliance – Tom McConnell
Every now and then there emerges a person who has the ability to evade or overcome the barriers and impediments that prevent peoples of varied cultures and perspectives from engaging in the exchange of knowledge and holding rational conversations. And, of course, when it comes to communicating Indigenous histories and current events; the layers are very deep (their antecedents being distant to most Canadian citizens) and therefore require sustained dialogue to advance cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect.
This remarkable communications professional brought to this task not only extensive experience, but an honest recognition of the task and what it would take to make a difference.