SOCAN member Jeremy Dutcher won the 2018 edition of the $50,000 Polaris Prize for the best album in Canada, on Sept. 17, 2018, at The Carlu in downtown Toronto.

The music on Dutcher’s album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is sung in the Indigenous Wolastoq language, with his own operatically-trained voice accompanying those found on 100-year-old archival recordings of his Native ancestors. Dutcher, raised partly in the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, spent five years researching the recordings and sang in Wolastoq in an effort to preserve the endangered language.

Graciously accepting the award onstage from last year’s winner Lido Pimienta, Dutcher said, “Canada, you are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance. Are you ready to hear the truth that needs to be told? Are you ready to hear the sound that needs to be heard?… What you see on the stage tonight is the future… This is the greatest night of my life!” He also deeply thanked his elder Maggie Paul, for mentoring him toward the archival recordings, and welcomed all to join him on his journey forward.

The 2018 gala featured captivating live performances from eight of the 10 short-list nominees, each of whom received a $3,000 prize: Dutcher, Jean-Michel Blais (who earned a standing ovation), Hubert Lenoir (whose live-wire antics electrified the crowd), Pierre Kwenders, Partner (who won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize earlier this year), Snotty Nose Rez Kids, U.S. Girls, and Weaves. Nominee Daniel Ceasar attended the event, but was represented by a live-taped video performance. Nominee Alvvays, unable to attend the Polaris Gala due to touring commitments, were represented by Deep Vvaters, a band from Toronto’s Girls’ Rock Camp (who also earned a standing ovation).

Earlier in the evening, at the pre-show reception, SOCAN sponsored each attendee’s first glass of beer or wine, as well as all of their light food, including fish tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, meatballs with mashed potatoes, and cold noodles with vegetables.

SOCAN congratulates Jeremy Dutcher, and all of the nominees, on these great career achievements!