Country/pop singer-songwriter, professional actor, and SOCAN member MacKenzie Porter has had a phenomenal breakout year. She’s the first woman in 22 years to score three consecutive Canadian country No. 1 songs; the first Canadian artist to score a Top 10 crossover (country to pop) debut since Shania Twain; and the first Canadian artist to hit No. 1 in Australia in 16 years. So it’s no surprise that she’s been nominated for four 2021 Canadian Country Music Awards, including Entertainer of the Year.

In a conversation with SOCAN, she discusses those nominations; some other memorable moments; drawing on her emotions in acting, songwriting, and performance (especially in the “Seeing Other People” video); and why she’s always just a little bit nervous with new co-writers.

SOCAN members Jully Black, Bruce Cockburn, and the late Salome Bey will be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame, and SOCAN member Serena Ryder will receive the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour, at Toronto’s Beanfield Centre on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, with a broadcast drawn from the event to air later in December on CTV.

“I’m so grateful for this opportunity to speak, to express, and to represent every little Black boy and girl who looked out and didn’t see someone who looked like them on television, or heard them on the radio, or seen them in film and TV, or saw them teaching in schools,” said Jully Black on learning of her induction.

“Being inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame feels to me like an excuse for a party,” joked Bruce Cockburn. “It feels wonderful. When I first heard the news, I was very excited. I was like, ‘What? Me?’”

At the 2021 awards show – the 23rd annual edition of the event – the other seven Walk of Fame inductees are:

  • Ajay Virmani (Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy) – Trailblazing between the streets and the sky, he became the Founder and CEO of Canada’s largest cargo airline, Cargojet, which has completed over 200 flights from China and other nations, bringing much needed PPE supplies for Canadians, and committed $3 million to healthcare initiatives and social justice causes.
  • Bret “The Hitman” Hart (Sports and Athletics) – A true champion and one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.
  • Damian Warner (Sports and Athletics) – Fresh from his dominating performance at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and winning Canada’s first gold medal in the decathlon, Damian Warner has taken his place as the greatest athlete on the world stage.
  • Frederick Banting, Charles Best, John Macleod, and James Collip (Science, Technology, and Innovation) – The team that saved 300 Million lives and counting with the discovery of insulin.
  • Graham Greene (Arts & Entertainment) – One of Canada’s most beloved and iconic actors, an Academy Award nominee who’s had principal roles in Dances with Wolves, The Green Mile, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Transamerica, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
  • Keanu Reeves (Arts & Entertainment) – A global star and legendary actor, producer, and director, who’s entertained audiences worldwide for more than three decades, fronting blockbuster franchises like The Matrix and John Wick.
  • Lieutenant-General (retired) The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire (Humanitarianism) – a celebrated advocate for human rights, who’s dedicated his life to eradicating the use of child soldiers.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will receive the new National Hero Honour, presented by Canada’s Walk of Fame to an individual whose selflessness, dedicated efforts, and outstanding contributions have made a significant difference in our society. As a star player with the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs, Duvernay-Tardif made international headlines as the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, as he deferred his $2.75 million salary to join the front-line pandemic efforts in his hometown of Montréal.

SOCAN members previously honoured by Canada’s Walk of Fame include Drake, the late Leonard Cohen, Andy Kim, Col. Chris Hadfield, the late Stompin’ Tom Connors, Michael Bublé, Rush, Sarah McLachlan, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Nickelback, and kd lang.

SOCAN recognized Canada’s first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021, with insight, education, and music from singer-songwriter and SOCAN Member, William Prince; opera singer and member of SOCAN’s Board of Directors Rhonda Head; and artist manager and arts administrator Alan Greyeyes.

All SOCAN staff spent the morning of the day reviewing the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and the 46 Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as other reading materials, online exhibitions, videos, and resources, all to familiarize themselves with both the history and current situation of Indigenous peoples.

The afternoon consisted of an online event for all employees, executives, and the board of directors, beginning with SOCAN Vice-President of International Relations Catharine Saxberg interviewing Alan Greyeyes, member of the Peguis First Nation and owner of the artist management firm Ogichidaa Arts.

Greyeyes explained that Indigenous peoples’ rights come from being on the land “since time immemorial,” and that as such, “we’re not equity-seeking, but sovereignty-affirming.” As an arts administrator, he talked about having to apply for smaller project grants (in the tens of thousands of dollars) rather than larger, long-term operating grants (in the hundreds of thousands), for which many Indigenous organizations don’t qualify under the current rules. Although he appreciates that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are gaining a seat at the table of many organizations in the Canadian music ecosystem, Greyeyes said, “We need to build our own table.”

The we then viewed a video speech from Rhonda Head, member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, opera singer, songwriter, and newly elected member of SOCAN’s Board of Directors. A child of residential school survivors, Head discussed how they “told their stories to deaf ears,” and said that it took a lot of therapy for her to even be able to talk about it. “Getting into music saved my life,” she said, and explained how she began to adapt Italian opera passages with her own Cree language, and eventually ended up playing at world-renowned venues like the Metropolitan Opera House and Carnegie Hall in New York City. We then viewed a powerful video for her song, “500 Years.”

William Prince, member of the Peguis First Nation and winner of the 2020 SOCAN Songwriting Prize (English), capped the day with moving, heartfelt online performances of three songs: “7,” about the Indigenous Seven Grandfather Teachings of Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth; “Run,” a new song written for the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run, about the kindness and empathy in the final steps of both Fox and Gord Downie; and “Wasted,” about finding inspiration wherever it may be, and following it, without wasting a single day.

SOCAN thanks Alan Greyeyes, Rhonda Head, and William Prince for providing SOCAN with the motivation to constantly and consistently pursue the truth, and improve the process, on our journey of reconciliation.