Topic: ARTS

Leaving Their Legacy: 2014 Indspire Awards

Inez Jasper

Inez Jasper – performing closing number “Dancing on the Run.’

Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall was the venue for the 2014 Indspire Awards, and once again Jennifer Podemski produced another fine gala. This years “Legacy” theme offered excellent performers and presenters. With a stunning stage backdrop, Sagkeeng’s Finest backed by Asham Stompers opened the show with their traditional blend of jigging mixed with modern tap styles that allowed three young First Nations men to win the 2013 Canada’s Got Talent. This years hosts, Tina Keeper and Kyle Nobess, added a comedic touch to the night’s festivities.

One of the night’s surprises was a performance by former NHL player and Stanley Cup Champion Theoren Fleury who took the stage to sing lead with his new country rock band. It was odd to watch this hockey player turned author/figure skater (Battle of the Blades)/motivational speaker belt out a tune wearing a fedora hat and red and black get-up, but we can’t knock a guy for trying out hidden talents. Also on the list of performers was comedian Don Burnstick, solo artist Beatrice Love, classic rock and R&B artist George Leach, and rounding out the evening was an uplifting closing number by Inez Jasper with her hip hop song “Dancing on the Run.” But the night’s real highlight was seeing 14 recipients earn the respect and adoration of the Indpsire Awards.

First Nations Drum had the chance to talk to some of the recipients including Mary Spencer and Charlie Snow Shoe. “I am extremely honoured to get the Inspire Award,” Spencer said. “I can honestly say that I’m speechless at this point for this incredible recognition.” Spencer was heavily favoured to win the first gold medal in women’s boxing at the 2012 Summer Olympics but came away without a medal. She shared her thoughts on the experience and her plans for the future and another olympics in 2016. “I always liked the sport, and when it came time to try boxing out, I fell in love with it immediately. I was 16-years-old, and entered my first competition at 17-years-old, and I knew I wanted to pursue it and see how far I could take myself in this sport.” There was intense pre-Olympic media attention, including a cover of Time Magazine and a commercial for Covergirl. Media articles called her “a gold medal favourite,” and she says, “I felt the same way. I felt I was and should be the gold medal winner. Plus it was the first time women’s boxing was in the Olympics; for every woman in the competition, it was a new experience.”

In her first fight, Spencer faced a Chinese fighter she had beaten twice previously. “I had gotten the draw, and if I was going to win that fight, I would have definitely been an Olympic medalist. It was a new experience, but I was not mentally prepared to be on such a big stage, and had no idea I would have sleepless nights leading up to the fight. I never had experienced that before,” she admits. “At the previous World Championships, I slept like a baby, but at the Olympics, you don’t understand the magnitude until you’re actually there. I was not prepared to handle not being able to sleep for a couple nights. Sometimes you don’t expect your body to react to stress and anxiety the way mine did at the olympics, and I couldn’t get my rhythm; nothing was working the way it normally does, and it really threw me off and for a loop.”

Spencer said that what she’ll take away from that experience is not dwelling on the negative and just move on and staying positive. “I do speaking engagements and use that money to fund my amateur boxing career. To be honest, the professional boxing circuit for women is not as lucrative as people may think, but I love my amateur status because I get to compete at national, world championships, and the Olympics—that to me is exciting. Being an amateur, I’ve been able to rack up 150 fights over the past 12 years.” Future competitions include a competition in Poland, World Championships in the fall, Pan Am Games in 2015 and the Olympics in 2016.

Charlie Snow Shoe was being recognized for his lifelong work in protecting the environment including his Gwich’in Tribal lands and the Dene traditional territories. “You know, in the 1960’s we were absolutely nothing to the government, and I want to share this story on my introduction into oil and gas,” Mr. Snowshoe said. “Where I come from, people lived off the land; they’d trap and fish, and the only time we’d go into town was for Christmas and New Years. My in-laws had a camp about 35 miles from Fort McPherson, and I had my traps there. People in those days would honour one another and never bother your traps. One night, I was really puzzled on what was going on in the distance as I saw smoke not to far from my traps, so I went up and I asked what was going on; they said they were doing seismic work looking for oil and gas. Well I’d never heard or seen this and really wasn’t all that sure about all this back then. Well for about three summers they were there, and I even worked there for one summer. One summer after work I met a guy—a former tribal councillor—and he asked me, ‘Are you just coming back from work?’ and I told him ‘Yeah, I work for oil and gas, cutting the trees for them.’ He told me that they we’re poisoning the land and it should be stopped. Well since then, I stopped working for oil and gas, and now almost all my life I have been working to keep our lands protected and healthy.”

Mr. Snow Shoe is a role model for all Aboriginal people in his unswerving commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. He has been actively involved with the band office in his home community of Tetlit Gwich’in, as well as for the Dene Nation, the Gwich’in Nation, and his hometown of Fort McPherson. He is currently fighting for the Peel River Watershed, which he believes should not be mined and should be preserved. The Peel River runs through Fort McPherson.

When asked about his thoughts on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, he responded, “No good! Look at all the spills that are happening. We have so many spills in Northern Alberta that are not being reported; they may report one or two. But now look what happened before Christmas: billions of litres spilled into the Peace River. So who’s crazy enough to think that the pipeline is the right way? For us people, it’s not; for the business people, it is. You know they like the dollar sign. They don’t worry about the land or worry about us, and they’re killing everything on the land.”

Other recipients includedJames Eetoolook (Lifetime Achievement), Kent Monkman (Arts), Marie Delorme (Business & Commerce), Maggie Paul (Culture & Heritage), Rita Bouvier (Education), Dr. Evan Adams (Health), Marion Meadmore (Law & Justice), Grand Chief Stewart Phillips for his work in politics, Robert Watts (Public Service), and among youth there were three recipients: John Jeddor of Miawpukek First Nation, Sarah Arngna’naaq of Inuit, NT, and Christie Lavallee, a Metis from Manitoba.

The Inspire Awards have been held annually since 1993, recognizing 14 Indigenous professionals and youth who demonstrate outstanding achievement and serve as invaluable models for Indigenous people. Nomination for the 2015 Indpsire Awards are now open; those awards will be handed out at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, Alberta.

Ontario Arts Council: Grants For Artists

Robbie Robertson

Aboriginal artists have been making great creative strides in recent years. The extraordinary paintings of Norval Morrisseau (a.k.a. the Copper Thunderbird”) have earned him the nickname “Picasso of the North.” Buffy St. Marie said, “There are two kinds of art: one that makes people millions of dollars and one that keeps communities together.” The talented Canadian-American Cree singer/songwriter has carried the torch for Native musicians for 40 years. She’s also well known as a visual artist, educator, and social activist.

Robbie Robertson, who wrote the classics “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “Somewhere Down the Crazy River” has just released his memoir entitled Legends, Icons and Rebels, depicting his personal artistic journey starting in Toronto with Ronnie Hawkins, then with Bob Dylan and eventually The Band. He met other artists, including Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, and his film work with Martin Scorsese makes for an intriguing biography of a Mohawk musician who believed that even against all odds, he could make it.

Aboriginal writers Joseph Bowden and Richard Wagamese have turned Native experiences into best-selling novels. Richard Van Camp’s novel The Lesser Blessed was made into a movie that garnered rave reviews. Adam Beach worked his way through television and independent movies and eventually was cast as Ira Hayes in the dramatic film Flags of Our Fathers, directed by Clint Eastwood. The 2013 Toronto Film Festival featured three Aboriginal films: Hi-Ho Mistahey from legendary Aboriginal documentary director Alanis Obomsawin, Rhymes For Young Ghouls directed by Jeff Barnaby, and Empire of Dirt directed by Peter Stebings. The Globe and Mail commented that these full-length movies about Canada’s Aboriginal peoples scream “Attention must be paid.”

Aboriginal artists have opened the door for another generation to walk through, but how does the aspiring artist who has worked on his craft find the financial support to realize that dream? The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) exists for that exact purpose. They help fund artists who need assistance to complete whatever project the artist has envisioned. The OAC recognizes the diversity and distinct histories of Aboriginal peoples in Ontario, and they have programs designed to support a wide range of Aboriginal artists an art forms. Aboriginal artists working in all artistic venues are encouraged to apply to the OAC programs that fit their needs. Applications are assessed by Aboriginal artists who have first hand knowledge of traditional Native arts, along with a cultivated understanding of contemporary arts such as film and literature.

Visit the OAC web site [] to learn about the criteria for applying for a grant. The next step is to get some advice. Sara Roque (416-969-7454) [] is the Aboriginal Arts officer for the Ontario Arts Council, and she can help you determine which direction to go in to ensure that the organization or the artist have every opportunity in securing funding for their project. For general information, call (416-969-7429) or toll free (1-800-387-0058 ext. 7429).

You must also be persistent. If the first application is turned down, don’t let that stop you; apply again, and again. Most artists will tell you that their funding came after several applications, but some are lucky enough to develop a project that is funded immediately. Whether you have worked on your art for years or you are a novice with a great idea, submit your application. The funding is there, and the OAC is very sensitive to the importance of developing Aboriginal artists in Ontario. In the words of OAC officer Sara Roque, “It shows a general sense of pride when the arts are healthy.” Turning a personal dream into reality is the role of the artist, and helping the artist fulfill that mission is the purpose of the Ontario Arts Council.

Speaking to Memory Images and Voices from St. Michael’s Indian Residential School

St. Michael's Indian Residential School


This exhibition has grown out of a unique opportunity to present the personal experiences of First Nations children who attended St. Michael’s Indian Residential School at Alert Bay, British Columbia. During the late 1930s, one student at the school had a camera and photographed many of her friends and classmates there. She recently donated these images to the Museum of Anthropology’s archive. The photos provide a rare and moving glimpse of residential school life through the eyes of students as they made a life for themselves away from families and home communities.

St. Michael’s Indian Residential School operated from 1929 to 1974, and its now-empty building is in deteriorating condition. With the support of the U’mista Cultural Centre (UCC) and the ‘Namgis First Nation at Alert Bay, MOA curator Bill McLennan was recently permitted to enter the building and photograph its interior spaces where the children had lived and worked. The resulting images, together with those of the students, are featured in Speaking to Memory, an exhibition jointly produced by McLennan and the UCC’s director Sarah Holland and curator Juanita Johnston.

In Alert Bay, Speaking to Memory will be hung around the exterior of the St. Michael’s school building, located beside the cultural centre. At MOA, the exhibition will be presented in our O’Brian Gallery. The large photographic panels depict the interior rooms of the school as they now appear, overlaid with historical images of the children. Accompanying the images are personal statements from former students of St. Michael’s school, recalling their experiences there. Quotations from a variety of sources express the Canadian government’s rationale for Indian residential schools, while excerpts from the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recognize the devastating impact of the schools. In addition, one “artifact” is featured in MOA’s exhibit: the institutional food-mixing machine, recently salvaged from the school’s kitchen.

The Indian residential school system was implemented in 1879 by the Canadian government to eliminate the “Indian problem”—that is, to absorb the Aboriginal population into the dominant Canadian identity, and to impose Christianity, English or French as the primary languages, and the abandonment of cultural and family traditions. St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay was one of 140 Indian residential schools that operated in Canada.

The exhibition is scheduled to coincide with meetings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Vancouver from September 18 – 21, 2013. On Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, MOA will host a public event to recognize the impact of the residential school experience in British Columbia.

For more information, please contact Bill McLennan at or Anna Pappalardo at


One Tribe Comic Anthology Supports Shannen’s Dream For Better Education

The Falling of the Sun (TM & © 2013 Steve LeBlanc)

Publishing company Jack Lake Productions Inc. has announced a unique and exciting new project. The One Tribe benefit comic book anthology is a non-profit book to be published in 2014 in association with James Waley of Pique Productions. The collection is being produced in support of improving First Nations’ reserve schools in Canada, with all proceeds going to the Shannen’s Dream campaign, which was formed to carry on the courageous work of the late Shannen Koostachin. Some of the top comic creator talents in the country have contributed work to support this worthwhile cause.

Shannen Koostachin, a young activist from the Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay coast in Ontario, had a simple and practical dream: safe, comfortable schools and culturally-based education for First Nations children and youth. In her brief life, Shannen worked tirelessly to convince the Federal government to give First Nations children a proper education. According to The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada website, “First Nations schools receive less funding per student than provincial and territorial schools, and zero dollars for things like libraries, computers, languages, or extracurricular activities. Many schools are plagued by serious health concerns such as extreme black mould contamination, high carbon dioxide levels, rodent and reptile infestations, sewage fumes, and unheated portables.”

James Waley, editor and graphic coordinator for the One Tribe project, says he was shocked and mortified that the Attawapiskat First Nations reserve had to declare a state of emergency due to substandard housing conditions. Reflecting on the outpouring of aid to victims of Japan’s tsunami and the disaster in Haiti, he noticed, “Canadians are quite eager to rush to the aid of people half a world away from us, [but] a huge segment of our population, suffering in our own backyard, is so often ignored and overlooked.” He says, “It was becoming increasingly clear that Attawapiskat was simply the tip of the iceberg of an ongoing crisis that most citizens and our government have allowed to continue for much too long.”

Shannen attended J.R. Nakogee elementary school, which was condemned and closed because of a decades-old fuel leak. Classes had been held held in makeshift portables since 2000, and by 2007, the federal government had backed out of three commitments to build a new school for the Attawapiskat community. Shannen and others took action and began a Students Helping Students campaign using Youtube and Facebook to share their experiences. In 2008, Shannen bravely spoke out on the steps of Parliament Hill, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2009 at the age of 14.
On July 27th, 2008, Shannen sent a letter to government officials, written in both Cree and English. In it, she revealed she wanted to become a lawyer, and she wrote frankly about the state of her own school: “For the last eight years, I have never been in a real school since I’ve started my education. For what inspired me was when I realized in grade in grade eight that I’ve been going to school in these portables for eight long struggling years. We put on our coats outside and battle through the seasons just to go to computers, gym, and library. I was always taught by the parents to stand up and speak out for myself. My message is to never give up. You get up, pick up your books, and keep walking in your moccasins.”

She talked about leadership and her father, Andrew Koostachin, who taught her “to look up to the Seven Grandfathers. Love, Respect, Truth, Honesty, Humility, Bravery and Wisdom.” He taught his daughter to put God first, then family, then education. “School is very important!” Shannen wrote. “This why I’m here, because children before grade 5 had already lost hope.” That statement is heartbreaking. Shannen was brave and strong to fight for what she felt was right. She stated honestly, “One, I do not like broken promises. Two, I do not like seeing my siblings going to school in washrooms. And three, I would like them to know too that I AM NOT GIVING UP.”

She wanted Minister Strahl to face the facts. “He knows that we are sick and tired walking back and forth outside in the cold winter, the cold wind, the cold rain, the hot sun. He knows that. It’s just that he doesn’t understand. If he did understood he could’ve just give us a school just like that!” Some might say the situation is far too complicated for such a simple solution, but if a government official’s child had to take classes in a run-down portable, that “new school building” promise would have been fulfilled in a hurry. Shannen also offered words of hope to fellow students, telling them not to be afraid, telling them to ignore the people who try to put them down, encouraging them speak out, think about the future, and follow their dreams. “I would tell them NEVER give up hope,” Shannen wrote. “Get up; pick up your books, and GO TO SCHOOL. But not in portables.”

Tragically, Shannen died in a car accident on May 30th, 2010, but her vision of better education is carried on through Shannen’s Dream, a student and youth-focused campaign designed to raise awareness about inequitable funding for First Nations children. Supporters are encouraged to write letters to their Member of Parliament, to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and to the Prime Minister of Canada. The Caring Society is an independent national organization with a vision is to ensure that First Nations children have opportunities to grow up safely at home, be healthy, and be proud of who they are. For additional information about Shannen’s Dream, visit [].

The One Tribe anthology contains about 200 pages of outstanding work by Canadian comic creators from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal backgrounds. James calls it “an all-ages full-colour comic book anthology not just for kids, but suitable for readers of any age. One Tribe will contain storylines exploring a potpourri of humour, drama, slice-of-life, horror, adventure, science fiction, and fantasy with a wide variety of art styles from the mainstream superhero and cartoon approach to alternative and underground.” James says, “I’ve always felt that comic book storytelling was a great resource for both learning and teaching materials. Students of any age respond to comics enthusiastically as they bring a lot more life and excitement to what might otherwise be boring classroom lessons. Students engage more quickly with material in this format, and with short attention spans being rampant in this age of the internet that’s a win-win situation, for sure! Studies have shown, also, that most material presented as sequential art tends to enhance students’ linguistic and communicative competence.”

Contributor Richard Van Camp [] has written numerous novels, children’s stories, and comic book scripts; one of his books, The Lesser Blessed, was recently produced as a feature film. Chad Solomon [] produces the beloved series Rabbit and Bear Paws, which he has self-published in a series of graphic novels and storybooks along with an entertaining puppet show he presents at schools, libraries, and events throughout Ontario. Jay Odjick ( has done animation and comics, but is best known for his superhero creation Kagagi the Raven, first published as a graphic novel through Arcana Comics and now being developed into an animated series.

The collection also features the top-notch talents of Troy Little (writer/artist on Angora Napkin), Brandon Mitchell (writer on Sacred Circles), Nick Bradshaw (artist on Wolverine & The X-Men), Kevin Sylvester (writer/artist on Neil Flambé), Mark A. Nelson (classic artist on Dark Horse Comics’ Alien series), Tom Grummett and Karl Kesel (artist/writer team on Section Zero), Nik Poliwko and Martin Powell (artist/writer team on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The War Chief), Jim Craig (artist on The Northern Light), Mike Cerkas & Larry Hancock (artist/writer team on Silent Invasion), and Rob Walton (writer/artist on Ragmop), with more to be announced in the months ahead.

Copies of the book will be sent to schools on reserves across Canada at no cost, and will also be available at libraries, comic shops, and bookstores everywhere through JLP’s worldwide distribution network. A crowd-funding Indiegogo campaign will begin on Friday, August 30th to raise funds to cover production costs and a modest page rate for the comic creators, but James says almost all of them have chosen to waive that payment and direct it to Shannen’s Dream instead. A free launch event is planned at Toronto’s top comic book shop, The Silver Snail, on Saturday September 7th. Featured artists and writers will be doing sketches and discussing their work in the anthology. Stay tuned at [] or find OneTribeAnthology on Facebook. For information about book sales and distribution, contact Jaak Jarve at (416-222-9445) or toll free (800-269-9206).

On Tour: A Tribe Called Red

On Tour: A Tribe Called Red

One magaizine writer called A Tribe Called Red “an audio-visual, cultural phenomenon,” and after watching to one of their more popular YouTube videos, “Electric Powwow Drum,” it’s clear they are definitely something different. The Ottawa DJ trio of Daniel General (DJ Shub), Thomas Ehren Ramon (Bear Weitness), and Ian Campeau (DJ NDN) has been tearing up stages in their latest Cross Canada Tour with their viscous sound, which includes traditional drumming, reggae’s pulse and sway, and dubstep beats. The Globe and Mail described their music saying, “A Tribe Called Red displays its mastery subtly… and you realize that the powwow elements in their songs are positioned to accent the syncopation in the electronics—an innovative, respectful way to bring traditional music into contemporary practice.” They are currently backing their latest tour to support new album mixes on Nation II Nation, which was just released in May through Pirates Blend Records/Tribal Spirit Music.

They have once again been nominated for a Polaris Music Prize, a music award (and hefty cash prize) given to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label. Polaris celebrates the highest artistic integrity, without regard to professional affiliation; nominated artists are judged by selected music journalists, broadcasters, and bloggers. Past winners include Broken Social Scene, Grammy nominee Feist, and Arcade Fire (also Grammy Award winners for Best Album in 2011). So, if A Tribe Called Red is added to the short list on July 16, and then goes on to win at the September 23 Polaris Music Prize Gala, it would definitely propel the group into international recognition.

A Tribe Called Red is the natural extension of something that’s been brewing in Canada for several generations, and is just coming to a head right now. Aboriginal artists—in particular the burgeoning community of young urbanite thinkers and makers in Canada’s cities—take what’s available (new technology, images, and sounds) and link it to a long line of creativity. The results may tear up the club, but could also manage to flip assumptions, reclaim clichés, and work social change.

The group got its start hosting one of Ottawa’s hottest club nights, the Electric Pow Wow. Things clicked quickly, after founders Bear Witness and DJ NDN teamed up with Canadian DMC champ DJ Shub. After their first chat, DJ Shub (Daniel), who is an experienced hip-hop producer, rushed back to his home several hours away and managed to have the first powwow-inspired track in his collaborators’ inboxes the next morning. Thanks to their wide-ranging curiosity and broad-minded creativity, the trio rapidly won a huge local following—inside and outside the Aboriginal community—and injected fresh energy into the already bubbling Aboriginal arts scene.

Nation ll Nation is the result of a unique partnership between A Tribe Called Red and the Aboriginal Co-op Label, Tribal Spirit Music run by Joywind and Robert Todd. Tribal Spirit began as crafters and drum makers on the Powwow Trail. After having built powwow drums and hand drums for groups all over North America, the couple saw a need for an outlet that would help singers grow and develop as artists. Tribal Spirit Music is committed to protecting artistic rights and encouraging strong economic development. Their label has a fair trade co-op structure, which facilitated the exchanges between A Tribe Called Red and all the drum groups.

One quote pulled from Nation II Nation really defines this trio: “After what happened in the last hundred years, the simple fact that we are here today is a political statement. As First Nations People, everything we do is political.” Get ready for the pulsing creativity of Nation II Nation and don’t miss the dynamic live show from A Tribe Called Red on tour this summer performing at local venues and music festivals including the Ottawa Bluesfest, Winnipeg Folk Fest, Squamish Valley Music Festival, and many more. Keep up with the latest on their Facebook page (look for A Tribe Called Red) and visit for information, advance tickets, and tour schedule.

Cowboy Smithx and Blaire Russell: The Pensive Times Tour

Film maker and actor Cowboy Smithx and photographer Blaire Russell are taking The Pensive Times Tour across North America. They are touring Canada and the United States to promote their work through presentations, speaking to other artists and groups in different cities to raise funds for Cowboy’s first feature film called Pensive Times of an Urban Tribe.

The film is about an ensemble of indigenous people living in Toronto, facing extreme adversity in their personal lives. A young art student gets them all together to write about their personal struggles; she then publishes their stories in an online blog called The Pensive Times. The site gains popularity in social media, and the group becomes the target of an obsessed homicidal fan.
Blaire Russell, from the Kainai First Nation, joined Cowboy to talk about photography and document their tour through his camera lens.

“The tour has given me a chance to network with many artists and media people across Turtle Island. It has also inspired me as an artist to pursue my dreams and talents,” says Blaire, who has also been booking photo shoots with models and artists along the way. After beginning the tour in March 2013 at the Concordia University in Edmonton Alberta, they headed south to Calgary, Kainai, Piikani and Siksika. They have travelled east to capital cities and communities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, then to British Columbia where Cowboy directed a music video for award winning and Juno nominated musician Inez Jasper for her new track called “Dancin’ on the Run.”

They recently toured Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the Navajo Nation, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Oklahoma, and New York.

”It’s huge for me,” says Cowboy. “I have been doing small projects for far too long. This tour has been a leap of faith into the abyss of feature filmmaking—the primary reason I got into this business in the first place. I have seen so many great projects from my peers get rejected by funders—not because they aren’t good; it’s just the arts have been getting cut so much there isn’t enough money to go around. Crowd funding gives artists another chance to bring their work to life.”
Cowboy was inspired to start this tour because the storyline of his project is about the impact of colonization on the characters: all indigenous people who have become disconnected within their lives.

”It’s important because the next few generations will be facing very serious circumstances concerning the environment, indigenous rights, protection of their territories, and the maintenance of their language and culture. Non-indigenous people in North America need to see that we are allies, not enemies. The Idle No More movement exposed the vibrant presence of racist ignorance in North America, especially in Canada. I want to create a healthy dialogue around a lot of these issues through the creation of this film,” explains Cowboy.

Cowboy and Blaire continue their journey through Indian Country and plan on ending the tour in Ontario, Canada. After the tour, Cowboy will go into production for the film Pensive Times of an Urban Tribe.

“This tour has proven to a lot of people the hope that if you set your mind to something and see the end result, good things will happen if you work hard towards them. The importance of getting yourself out there, putting in hard work, and meeting as many people as possible helps you as an artist in the long run,” says Blaire Russell.

To support the project, go to [] and look up Pensive Times of an Urban Tribe. They have also documented the tour through video, radio, photography, and music. Look for Cowboy Smithx on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (@CowboySmithx), and follow Blaire Russell Photography on Facebook and Tumblr.

GMANWOLF: Ready to take on the world

Gmanwolf includes 17-year-old founder/producer/rapper WolfMan (AKA Galveston Barnaby), 20-year-old rapper Waldo (AKA Dustin Isaac), and 18-year-old rapper Static Kane (AKA Brandon Wysote)

Indigenous hip-hop trio Gmanwolf includes 17-year-old founder/producer/rapper WolfMan (AKA Galveston Barnaby), 20-year-old rapper Waldo (AKA Dustin Isaac), and 18-year-old rapper Static Kane (AKA Brandon Wysote). Living on the Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, Gmanwolf turned to music as a constructive way of dealing with the daily challenges of life on the reservation. After honing their musical skills through constant writing and recording since 2008, the group recorded “All We Need Is Change” in 2012, which instantly resonated with their community. The positive yet realistic lyrics encourage community members to choose music and education as a healthy outlet and turn away from drugs.

Through their efforts to make a difference in their First Nation by inspiring youth to be drug-free, ambitious, and hard-working, the trio caught the attention of Canadian news network CBC, which published a feature on Gmanwolf titled “Northern Rappers Use Music To Spread Positive Message.” This national coverage immediately put them on the Revolution Harmony radar, as the group’s meaningful and hopeful lyrics were in perfect alignment with the label’s ethos. Revolution Harmony approached Gmanwolf in June 2012 and has been working behind-the-scenes with them ever since.

After their flagship track “All We Need Is Change” was chosen as the debut single, it grew into an international recording project, with live instruments performed by Stefan Loh (We Claimed Sentience Once) in Bristol, UK and vocals recorded at Gmanwolf Productions in Listuguj, Canada. Mixing/mastering was done by Rohan Onraet (Shakira, Robbie Williams, etc.) in London, UK.

“All We Need Is Change” music Video, buy the single on iTunes here.

Gmanwolf founder WolfMan says that signing to Revolution Harmony was a very big step in their music career, but they weren’t going to celebrate yet. “As this is only the beginning, ‘All We Need Is Change.’ This song is dedicated to everyone living these real-life struggles that most other people only read about in the news but happens every day right here in our community. We thought that making a song about things that matter will hopefully inspire those who are in the same boat as us to stay focused and work hard. The ‘Idle No More’ movement is helping all people across Canada, and that was the goal for this song, too. Even though we rap about us First Nations, ‘All We Need Is Change’ is actually for anyone going through a difficult time who needs change.”

Revolution Harmony founder Ray Holroyd talked about signing Gmanwolf: “The discovery of these young, positive, talented, and focused First Nations rappers is definitely one of my most meaningful and exciting A&R finds to date. I’ve actually been working closely with Gmanwolf for about nine months now, so I’m monumentally honoured and proud to finally unveil them to the world.” He continues about the role of Gmanwolf in the ‘Idle No More’ movement. “It’s vital to engage the Native youth in the revolution in order to ensure its longevity and eventual success, and the constructive approach that Gmanwolf raps about has already inspired their Listuguj community, and with the worldwide release of ‘All We Need Is Change,’ we hope to take their message from the east coast right across Canada to the west coast and far beyond. And, this anthemic debut single is only the first step of their journey, as Gmanwolf is now idle no more!”

Gmanwolf plans to release their first EP this July and looks forward to hitting the road as soon as they can find the right agent and manager. “We’ve played three gigs so far: on our rez, the Gesgapegiag First Nation, and the Prismatic Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is Canada’s premier festival for new works by culturally diverse artists,” said the WolfMan. “We are getting a lot of positive feedback from the audiences we’ve played so far, and people tell us to ‘follow our dreams,’ which of course we are!”

Both Wolfman and Static Cane are still in high school, while Waldo just got employment. You can follow Gmanwolf Productions on their Facebook page and Twitter (@Gmanwolf) or listen to their music video on the Revolution Harmony website.

Indspire 2013 Awards Show In Saskatoon

Indspire 2013 Awards Show In Saskatoon

The 2013 Indspire awards were handed out to the recipients at the Sid Buckwold Theatre in Saskatoon on February 15th. Hosted by Darrell Denis and Cheri Maracle, the show opened with traditional dancers to set the tone for the event. Alberta country musician Terri Clark, along with Sherry St Germain, Burnt Project 1, and A Tribe Called Red provided stellar musical interludes for the awards gala. Award recipient Theoren Fleury, who was born in Saskatchewan, praised his home province for giving him the opportunity to make hockey his career.

The show will be televised April 19th on Global and APTN, and it will be an excellent opportunity to watch the highlights of the 20th annual presentation of the awards, formerly known as the Aboriginal Achievement Awards. The recipients are individuals who have made a difference, and the Indspire Awards recognize their contributions in sports, culture, education, business is a celebration of the talents and intelligence of our people. The awards also are a great source of inspiration for young people who need to believe in themselves to reach their own goals. Listening to people who have spent a lifetime following their dream is an excellent motivation factor.

Canadian Icon Roy Henry Vickers Unveils New Collection of Work

Canadian Icon Roy Henry Vickers Unveils New Collection of Work

Vancouver, BC – Roy Henry Vickers, one of Canada’s most-lauded artists, launches his largest-ever collection of new prints at a public gallery and storytelling event on Saturday, April 6, 2013, from 10:30am to 4pm, at Vancouver’s iconic Waterfall Building. The creations on display were inspired by Raven Brings the Light – a highly anticipated book co-authored by Vickers and historian Robert Budd – telling the legend of how Raven brought light to the world.

“This story belongs to the people of the Northwest Coast, where is has been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years,” said Vickers. “It is a great joy for me to share this in a new way. I hope through this story, thousands more will discover and understand this important piece of our culture.”

The April event marks Vickers’ first time unveiling a new collection in the city since The Vancouver Series in 1988. The day promises to be rich in significance, cultural exploration, and artistry. Throughout the celebration visitors may view the striking works, read copies of the book, meet Vickers himself, and enjoy a family-friendly telling of Raven Brings the Light. Collectors and the public will have the opportunity to purchase signed books and one or all of the 12 limited edition fine art prints.

Vickers’ contributions to Canada’s First Nations and artistic communities are widely celebrated. He has received a hereditary chieftainship and several hereditary names from a number of Northwest Coast First Nations, as well as numerous awards including the Order of Canada. His works can be found hanging in the Museum of Anthropology, the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, YVR International Airport, as well as in Eagle Aerie Gallery, his personal gallery in Tofino.

His artwork is a carefully crafted fusion of traditional and contemporary, with layers of history and myth within his clean, sharp images. As such, he is uniquely placed to share the story of Raven with peoples throughout the world. With Raven Brings the Light, Vickers retells a Northwest Coast legend, traced back more than three millennia by archaeologists. In a time when darkness covered the land, the story goes, a boy named Weget turns into a raven and flies from Haida Gwaii into the sky. There, he tricks the Chief of the Heavens and manages to bring the sun– kept in a box – to the Earth. While the story is ubiquitous across British Columbia, this particular version originates from Chester Bolton, Chief of the Ravens, who told it to Vickers in Kitkatla in 1975. Vickers has since recounted the story to thousands of eager listeners. One such listener is historian and co-author Robert Budd, who first started working with Vickers to document his memoirs. Budd has built a career on sharing stories. His first book, Voices of British Columbia, quickly became a bestseller. During lengthy discussions for the artist’s memoir, the current project was born.

“In essence, my work as a documenter and author is to sustain important stories from individuals and cultures,” said Budd. “When Roy first told me the story of Raven Brings the Light, I knew it was something special that needed to be shared. I feel deeply honoured to help further this tale and help bring it to new life through Roy’s striking art.”

Raven Brings the Light [ISBN 978-1-55017-593-6] is published by Harbour PublishinG and released on April 6, 2013. The book contains 20 colour illustrations by Roy Henry Vickers, including 19 new pieces.