Canada’s JUNO Awards Introduces Indigenous Artists Categories

To enable further recognition for emerging musicians, two new award categories were created for Indigenous artists and groups

Artist Jayli Wolf (Photo credit: Hayden Wolf)


The JUNO Awards was founded in 1971 to bolster the public profile of musicians in Canada. Elaine Bomberry first co-founded the Indigenous Music category at the awards in 1994. 

According to CBC News, in 2003, that category was renamed the Aboriginal Recording of the Year, before becoming the Aboriginal Album of the Year in 2010. It changed again in 2017 to Indigenous Music Album of the Year.

This year, this category has become two inaugural awards: “Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year” and “Traditional Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year.” 

There are 10 nominees across these two sections including Adrian Sutherland for When The Magic Hits, DJ Shub’s War Club, Jayli Wolf’s Wild Whisper, Shawnee Kish’s Shawnee Kish, and Snotty Nose Rez KidsLife After for the contemporary section. 

For the traditional division, nominees are Fawn Wood for Kakike, Joel Wood’s Singing is Healing, Manitou Mkwa SingersManitou Mkwa Singers II, Nimkii & the Niniis for Nang Giizhigoong, Young Spirit for Angel Eagle — Cree Round Dance Songs.

First-time JUNO nominee Jayli Wolf said she originally had not thought to release her songs because of their personal nature. “I don't want to be someone who is defined by my trauma in a negative way,” Wolf said. “I want to take the light of it. I want to take the strength.”

Turning to art and music to express and process her experiences, she explained: “I was just in a very healing state of mind where I needed to cope with the trauma and the depression that I was going through, and this is the art that came out from that.”

“Our music, our teachings and our way of life have been swept under the carpet for so long,” said Nimkii Osawamick of Nimkii and the Niniis, according to CBC. “I wanted to keep it real and I want to keep the truth to our roots because that's the way that I believe we're going to decolonize ourselves,” he added.

For the full list of 2022 JUNO Awards nominees, click here.

Hosted by Simu Liu, the award ceremony will be broadcast and streamed live on May 15 at 8 PM ET on various CBC television and radio programs. To watch it online from different time zones, click here