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Wisdom: Providing space for Indigenous artists to connect and share

International Indigenous Music Summit going virtual June 8 – 12.

The International Indigenous Music Summit is dedicated to building opportunities and creating awareness for the Indigenous music community and is a unique gathering of artists, knowledge keepers, community builders and cultural innovators.

This year the event will be held virtually, broadcasted from the National Arts Centre on traditional unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa, with artists and presenters joining from the comfort of their homes.

To make this virtual event a success, the curators created a special Summit project, Giiwewizh (to carry home) that features 16 Indigenous artists from across Canada in 16 short documentaries, produced by Jennifer Podemski’s RedCloud Studios and directed by Sarain Fox, Indigenous storyteller, activist, and filmmaker.

“We asked each creator to make their own personal short film from their homelands. We based the series on the word Giiwewizh (meaning ‘to carry home’, in Ojibway Anishinaabe). Through the lens of iPhone 12, each artist documented how they experience the land and how that informs their creation,” says Fox.

Close to home

One artist involved is Aysanabee, Oji-Cree singer now based in Toronto from Sandy Lake First Nation and Kaministiquia.

When the event showed up on Aysanabee’s social feed he thought it really fit with what he’s doing, especially after a year of exploring his music more in depth and from a more personal angle after COVID-19 hit.

“The people who run [the International Indigenous Music Summit] are amazing and strong Indigenous women. They’ve created this platform for Indigenous people and artists to have a platform, to be heard. It’s sad that still has to exist but I’m glad it does,” he says.

After learning guitar from his brother growing up, Aysanabee has been creating music and has two songs he released during COVID-19, The Dawn and Ocean Breath.

He’s found space in isolation, allowing him to get away from any distractions and truly get in touch with his roots, diving deeper into his craft and where he came from.

“The music community is very supportive [in Thunder Bay]. If you play music in Thunder Bay, you get to know a lot of people and that made me move to Toronto.”

Coming together to honour tradition

The International Indigenous Music Summit hosts and celebrates the artistic excellence in the Indigenous community and their contributions to the mainstream music scene, giving Indigenous artists the deserved and needed space to express and create across Canada.

“The Summit is an opportunity for us to strengthen our connections and share our common experiences as Indigenous peoples. These International Spotlights will honour and celebrate the voices, stories and traditional ancestral lands of Indigenous people from around the globe,” says ShoShana Kish, artistic director of the International Indigenous Music Summit.

The excitement of this virtual summit is felt by everyone involved and after a year of creating to overcome forced isolation, artists alike are excited to share these creations with the world.

The 2021 International Indigenous Music Summit is a virtual event hosted on June 8 - 12, produced in partnership with host venue National Arts Centre (Ottawa). Giiwewizh, a series of short films, will premiere each night of the Summit.

Options include sliding scale fees and packages for Indigenous and non-Indigenous delegates. Take part in the virtual feast with a home-delivered meal kit.

Register here.

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