The first National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in 1993 were held to celebrate excellence in the Aboriginal community.
Those awards were televised and it was an exciting time for many First Nations, Metis and Inuit people because they were seeing themselves for the very first time being recognized and honoured in a first class ceremony.
Since then the awards were changed to the Indspire Awards and have been hosted in cities across the country with this year’s ceremony being held in Winnipeg for the third time.
This year’s theme for the awards ceremony was, “Indigitropolis, Where Language Lives,” which came from the vision of Indigenous language reclamation and revitalization.
The Indspire Awards Ceremony program reads, “When it comes to Indigenous language, there are many layers, but at the centre of the conversation is a striking reality: Indigenous People across Kanata have witnessed the near extinction of their languages since the dawn of the Residential School era(s).”
This impacted community well-being, sense of self and identity. This is why the movement of Indigenous language reclamation and revitalization is essential if our communities are going to thrive.
The goal was to create a show that embodied the essence of, “Indigenous languages thriving.” To us, Indigitropolis is a place where Indigenous languages live and thrive. It is where Indigenous culture, ceremony and identity prosper, where everything in life is witnessed through an Indigenous world view. It is rural, it is urban, it is everywhere.
This year’s hosts were actors and comedians Darrell Dennis and Kyle Nobess. Performances included Cheri Maracle, Indian City, the Asham Stompers, Star Dancers, member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra with choreographer and dancer Santee Smith.
Presenters included Dances with Wolves actress, Tantoo Cardinal, actor Johnny Issaluk and CBC Radio host of Unreserved, Rosanna DeerChild.
In the program, the awards committee said they were inspired by the neon signs on a skyline for the stage’s unique backdrop effect.
“We translated the words ‘Speak’ and ‘Language’ into nine Indigenous languages including Innuaimun, Mi’kmaq, Mohawk, Nisga, Michif, Ojibwe, Inuktitut, Dene and Plains Cree, and erected a skyline that embraced the entire stage to ensure that every performance, recipient reveal, and host introduction was being supported by language, identity, and indigeneity,” according to the awards committee.
The 2018 Indspire Awards will be televised on APTN and CBC in June, with the date to be announced in May.