Jeremy Dutcher has won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.
On Monday night, a grand jury of 11 Polaris voters convened at the Carlu in Toronto, Ont. to decide the winner of this year's big award, which is handed out every year to the best Canadian album of the year.
Dutcher, a Wolastoqiyik member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, beat out nine other albums for the $50,000 grand prize, including Daniel Caesar's Freudian, U.S. Girls' In a Poem Unlimited and Alvvays' Antisocialites. He is the first east coast act to win the award in its 12 year history.
"This is the greatest moment of my life!" he exclaimed onstage as he accepted the award, which was presented to him by last year's winner, Lido Pimienta.
Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa uses 100-year-old wax cylinder recordings of traditional Wolastoq songs, a language that is now only fluently spoken by less than 100 people, and is fused with Dutcher's own musical interpretations that's oftentimes operatic and orchestral. Many have said that this record is an act of preservation and in Dutcher's speech at the gala, he echoes that sentiment.
"I do this work to honour those who have gone before and I lay the footprints for those yet to come," he says. "Canada, you are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance. Are you ready to hear the truths that need to be told? Are you ready to see the things that need to be seen?"
Other previous Polaris Music Prize winners include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tanya Tagaq, Feist, Arcade Fire and Kaytranada.
For all of CBC Music's coverage of the Polaris Music Prize, head over to cbcmusic.ca/polaris.
Celebrating the best of Canadian music from 2018. The Polaris Prize awards the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label. Hear this year's short-list nominees Weaves, Daniel Ceasar, Jeremy Dutcher, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Alvvays and more