National Indigenous Peoples Day: 10 Indigenous Artists You Should Know - The JUNO Awards

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate and honour the incredible talent and creativity of Indigenous musicians across Canada. From traditional fiddle players to contemporary pop artists, these talented individuals are creating works that both celebrate Indigenous culture and push creative boundaries. 

To mark this important day, we are highlighting ten essential Indigenous artists you should know – each showcasing the richness and diversity of Indigenous music in Canada.

Stirling John 

With a voice that both soothes and inspires, Stirling John is an Ojibwa Inspirational Country artist from the Saugeen First Nation Reserve, now residing outside Edmonton, Alberta. The JUNO-nominated artist, influenced by the sounds of Paul Brandt and Rascal Flatts, uses music as a platform to shed light on the topics that matter most to him: real life people and events.

Suggested song: “Weight of the Call

Logan Staats

Following his win on CTV’s The Launch in 2018 and subsequent tours across North America and Europe, Mohawk singer-songwriter and JUNO nominee Logan Staats felt a strong calling to reconnect with his Indigenous heritage. Deeply influenced by the rich musical legacy of Six Nations, particularly its blues and rock traditions, Staats has crafted a sound that embodies the passion, rage, love, and healing essential to the journey toward Indigenous sovereignty.

Suggested song: “Six Miles

 

Joel Wood

The 2024 Traditional Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year JUNO winner Joel Wood, creates music that is a powerful blend of soulful melodies and heartfelt lyrics. However, what sets Wood’s music apart is its deep connection to his Cree heritage. Encompassing Cree round dance and powwow elements, he proudly embraces traditional music and focuses on the Cree language, spreading its beauty and preserving its rich cultural heritage. 

Suggested song: “Hear Our Prayers

Zoon

Zoon, the musical alias of Anishinaabe musician Daniel Monkman, is a Canadian shoegaze artist from Hamilton, Ontario. Building on their Polaris Music Prize-shortlisted debut album, Bleached Wavves, their JUNO-nominated album, Bekka Ma’iingan, is centred around honouring their Indigenous and Two Spirit identity. The album explores the reclamation of Indigenous language and addresses the challenges faced by Indigenous people due to colonialism, racism, and oppression.

Suggested song: “Manitou

Morgan Toney

Morgan Toney, a Traditional Roots JUNO nominee, seamlessly fuses the fiery fiddling of Cape Breton Island with traditional Mi’kmaq songs, creating a unique sound that celebrates his Mi’kmaq language and heritage. Toney, who has only been playing the fiddle for a few years, draws on the legacy of his great-grandfather and great-uncles, all renowned Mi’kmaq fiddlers, to create a sound he calls “Mi’kmaltic,” a beautiful and inspiring amalgamation of Mi’kmaq and Celtic music.

Suggested song: “Resilience” 

Elisapie

Elisapie’s unconditional love for her territory and her language, Inuktitut, remains at the core of her creative journey. Born and raised in Salluit, a small village in Nunavik, Elisapie is an emblematic Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter. The 2024 Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year winner’s music blends folk, pop, and electronic elements, often sung in English, French, and Inuktitut. Her most recent album, Inuktitut, reimagines pop and rock classics in her native language.

Suggested song: “Uummati Attanarsimat (Heart of Glass)

Shawnee Kish

A vocal advocate for her Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ communities, Shawnee Kish is a Two Spirit Mohawk and JUNO nominee who masterfully combines elements of pop, rock, and electronic music. Renowned for her powerhouse vocals and exceptional songwriting, Shawnee’s work delves into themes of identity, empowerment, and social justice, using music as a powerful tool for healing and acceptance.

Suggested song: “No Evil”

Aysanabee

Making history as the first-ever Indigenous Artist to win the JUNO for Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year for his sophomore album Here and Now, Oji-Cree multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer-songwriter Aysanabee has quickly become a standout figure in the Canadian music scene. His music, a blend of indie, soul, and electronic soundscapes, is both hypnotic and melodic, drawing comparisons to Bon Iver, Matt Corby, and Sam Smith.

Suggested song: “Here and Now

 

William Prince

Known for his soulful voice and heartfelt storytelling, William Prince continues to add to his exceptional body of work with his fourth album, 2024 Contemporary Roots Album of the Year winner Stand in the Joy. Fusing together elements of folk, country, and Americana, Prince’s music seamlessly weaves Indigenous culture with everyday life, delivering warm, thoughtful songwriting with a relaxed tone.

Suggested song: “When You Miss Someone

Ruby Waters

Renowned for her moody soundscapes and powerful vocals, Métis singer-songwriter Ruby Waters has swiftly captured attention as a rising Canadian artist in recent years. Originating from Shelburne, Ontario, Waters was raised amidst the artistic influences of her musician parents. Her distinctive voice, often likened to legends such as Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, has become a hallmark of her signature sound.

Suggested song: “90 to 99