SOCAN member Laura Niquay shone twice at the 2022 ADISQ Galas: First, at the Premier Gala on Nov. 2, where she won the first Félix for Album of the Year – Aboriginal Languages for Waska Matisiwin, and then at the televised gala on Nov. 6, in the Indigenous Artist of the Year category.

This double win took on even greater meaning during her performance alongside Claude Mckenzie, Samian, Ivan Boivin-Flamand, and Émile Bilodeau, all of whom lit up the stage, while demonstrating the evolution and richness of Québec’s indigenous musical landscape.

Niquay seemed content after winning her second Félix award, and after also winning the 2022 SOCAN Foundation TD Indigenous Songwriter Award in July of 2022, as well as three awards at the Teweikan Gala on Oct. 10, 2022.

We spoke with Niquay, who considers herself a messenger, and for whom the transfer of knowledge plays a vital role in the vitality of the indigenous music scene.

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Click on the image to play the interview with Laura Niquay

The SOCAN Foundation is delighted to announce Logan Staats as the recipient of this year’s TD Indigenous Songwriter Award. The acclaimed Mohawk artist from Six Nations of the Grand River (in Ontario) is being recognized for his song, “Deadman”.

The SOCAN Foundation’s TD Indigenous Songwriter Award was created to recognize and celebrate the artistic merit demonstrated by Indigenous songwriters of any genre, and this year marks the fifth anniversary of the Awards. Staats will receive a cash prize of $10,000, as well as career development opportunities, and a performance opportunity in front of music industry professionals.

“My nation and my community are in every chord I play, and every note I sing. They’ve saved me,” says Staats. “As I spend more and more time on Indigenous frontlines, it’s really affecting my songwriting. Most of my inspiration has come from my time at Land Back Lane and Wet’suwet’en. I used to keep my activism and music separate, but now they’re totally intermingled.”

Honourable Mention awards of $1,000 are also being made to Aysanabee, Ila Barker, Kaeley Jade, Uncle Joe, and Twin Flames. The winners will be using the funds to support their career development in various areas, including recording new music, videography, and business management.

“Empowering Indigenous voices is essential, and we’re thankful for ongoing support from  TD to celebrate Indigenous songwriters in Canada,” said Charlie Wall-Andrews, Executive Director of SOCAN Foundation. “The award is designed to celebrate merit in the craft of songwriting.”

On March 27, 2023, at 6:00 pm ET, all SOCAN Foundation TD Indigenous Songwriter Award recipients will be honoured on a special edition of The Kim Wheeler Show on SiriusXM’s The Indigiverse, Channel 165. Listeners will learn more about all the recipients from across Canada and hear their music.

“It’s exciting to see how many Indigenous songwriters there are. Congratulations to Logan Staats and all of the special distinction winners,” says Kim Wheeler, host of SiriusXM Indigiverse and Award jury chair. “The industry is growing, and this Award helps celebrate and create opportunities for Indigenous creators and make space for musicians who are making amazing music.”

Hundreds of applications from artists across Canada covering a wide variety of musical genres were submitted for consideration, and the winners were selected by a jury and advisory council of prominent Indigenous artists and industry leaders, including those of First Nations, Métis and Inuit heritage. This special Award is made possible with the support of TD Bank Group. Previous recipients of the award are Laura Niquay, Leonard Sumner, Anachnid, and Jasmine Netsena.

“TD is proud to congratulate Logan Staats as winner of the TD Indigenous Songwriter Award,” said Robyn Small, Senior Manager, Philanthropy, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group. “Through the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform, we seek to help break down barriers for emerging artists and spotlight them through our support for organizations like the SOCAN Foundation. We’re proud to celebrate the musical and cultural works of artists from the Indigenous community, and help create opportunities to amplify diverse voices.”

In 2018, Logan Staats won the musical competition The Launch, a breakthrough that would lead him to Nashville and Los Angeles, to his single “The Lucky Ones” reaching No. 1 in Canada, and to winning the Indigenous Music Award for best radio single.

In the years since, Staats has come home, making the intentional decision to re-root at Six Nations of the Grand River. To Staats, music is a healing salve, contemplatively composed, and offered to listeners in need of comfort. Since returning home, Staats has been able to create music authentically again, reclaiming his sound through honest storytelling and unvarnished, sometimes painful reflection.

Staats has recently found a new label home with Red Music Rising, and is excited to be working on his next album, which includes songs entirely written by Staats, with the exception of one cover.

Counting musical icon Buffy Sainte-Marie (for whom he frequently opens) among his mentors, Staats wants to pay forward the guidance he’s received by connecting with Indigenous youth through music. He frequently leads workshops and visits local schools.

Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish of Digging Roots will receive the 2023 CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award in recognition of their longstanding commitment to charitable initiatives. They accepted the honour during a special presentation at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel, on Toronto’s Waterfront, on June 10, 2023.

The CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award is presented annually to a Canadian artist, duo, or group, in recognition of their social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes. As recipient of this Award, The Slaight Family Foundation will make a sizable donation towards Digging Roots’s chosen cause, to acquire and donate ground-penetrating radar machines that will allow First Nation communities to survey and find children murdered in their traditional territories when mandated Residential Schools operated across Canada. To date, the bodies of 10,000 young people have been discovered in unmarked graves.

The husband-and-wife team of Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish of Digging Roots are Anishinabek and Onkwehón:we musicians, songwriters, and activists, who’ve traveled around the world spreading conscious music that speaks to the modern identity of being Indigenous people in Canada. Since the inception of Digging Roots, Raven and ShoShona have supported many, many grassroots and cultural events in the advocacy of Indigenous Rights. Over the years, they’ve conducted music workshops with children in isolated reserves, with a focus on identity, empowerment, history, colonialism, and creativity. They’ve also gifted instruments like drums, guitars, harmonicas, and amplifiers to Indigenous children.

Says Raven, “We’re in a time of reconciliation, we need to move our allied discussions from conversation to action, and that means we need co-conspirators to get the healing process started. It’s time to learn from the past so we don’t repeat the injustices of yesteryear. The only way forward is to face the truth of this country and implement solutions for peace.”