Over the years, that category has existed. Then, the community came to us a couple years ago and said, “We really feel there needs to be a second category that celebrates traditional Indigenous music in this country.” What was happening was even though artists could submit into the Aboriginal Recording category, there was so much success happening for contemporary Indigenous artists, like A Tribe Called Red and William Prince, that the traditional drum music, the powwow music, wasn’t being celebrated. As Jeremy Dutcher called it, there was an Indigenous Renaissance happening. The community was able to demonstrate to us that there was a lot of music going unrecognized. So, this idea of splitting the category became really important to us.
You’ll also see this year that we’re recognizing the work of Susan Aglukark and her Arctic Rose Foundation. Their whole purpose is to support northern Inuit, First Nations, and Metis youth by promoting emotional and mental wellness by connecting that through culture and through adaptable arts-based programming.
It’s been a very important part of what CARAS does to make sure we’re shining a light on Indigenous artists who need to be seen and heard. There’s so much awareness of the challenges the Indigenous people have been through in this country. If we can do a little bit to give those artists a platform, to have their words and music heard, it’s important for us to do that.