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10 things you need to know about the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards

Editorial Staff

By Andrea Warner, Jess Huddleston, Melody Lau, Robert Rowat and Holly Gordon

The 2018 Indigenous Music Awards happen on Friday, May 18, in Winnipeg. Established icons and emerging artists alike will be on hand for the show, which will be co-hosted by musician Beatrice Deer and CBC Reclaimed host Jarrett Martineau.

Nominees include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Jay Gilday, Kelly Derrickson, Melody McKiver, Kelly Fraser and Jeremy Dutcher. Some of the nominees are also on task to perform at the ceremony, such as Ansley Simpson, Chase Manhattan, Indian City and Kristi Lane Sinclair. Acclaimed musician Pat Vegas of famed rock band Redbone will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and will also perform. The show will be streamed live via and

In advance of the star-studded ceremony, CBC Music has compiled this list of 10 things you need to know about the Indigenous Music Awards.  

1. The winners were originally chosen by fans

In its previous incarnation as the Aboriginal Peoples’ Choice Music Awards, awards were decided on by a fan voting process. When it first launched in 2006, the show’s executive producer Errol Ranville told the press that “it is a first for the Aboriginal community, where people from every nation — the fans, can participate in selecting their favourite artists. The people will truly decide.” That rule changed in 2017 though, when winners were chosen by a selected jury.

2. It wasn't always called the Indigenous Music Awards

Up until 2014, the Indigenous Music Awards were known as the Aboriginal Peoples' Choice Music Awards (APCMAs). In 2015, the show became known as the Indigenous Music Awards. After taking a hiatus in 2016, the IMAs returned in 2017.

3. The inaugural APCMAs took place in 2006

Seventeen awards were given out at those first awards. Winners included Hank Horton, Eagle & Hawk and J.J. Lavallee & the Freebird Band. Now, the IMAs select winners from 20 different categories — ranging from best rock and electronic album, to best powwow and best hand drum album, to best music video and best new artist.

4. The Indigenous Music Awards are part of the annual Manito Ahbee Festival

"Manito Ahbee" is an Ojibway name that means “where the Creator sits,” and the awards were given to the festival through ceremony. It’s named after one of the most important Indigenous gathering sites in all of Turtle Island.

5. You'll be able to watch more than 800 dancers in an international powwow

A big part of the Manito Ahbee Festival, and an exciting complement to this year’s IMAs, is an international powwow taking place Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. More than 800 dancers and an array of award-winning drum groups will perform and compete for prizes. For those unable to attend, the powwow will be webcast here.

6. Mikisew Cree First Nation singer Iceis Rain was credited as the first openly two-spirited person to perform at the awards

From Fort Mackay, Alta., Iceis Rain a.k.a. Massey Whiteknife, performed on the show in 2014. [Editor's note: since this article was published, readers have noted that other two-spirit musicians performed at the awards previously, though Iceis Rain was credited as the first "openly two-spirited" person in 2014.

7. Pat Vegas will receive the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Vegas earns this honour in part for his esteemed music career with the band Redbone. The group’s wildly successful 1974 single “Come and Get Your Love” was a top five hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, and saw a recent resurgence when it was featured in the film Guardians of the Galaxy.

8. Corner Gas star Lorne Cardinal hosted the APCMAs 9 years in a row

And Katherine St. Germain co-hosted the very first APCMA with Cardinal.

9. The ceremony will honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, men, boys and 2SLGBTQ individuals

Kristi Lane Sinclair will perform her song “Woman” as part of the tribute, which will include a stage decor of red dresses and red shirts.

10. CBC Music recently launched a 2018 Indigenous Music Awards stream

It features this year’s nominees.


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