Canadian Music Week announced today the incomparable Buffy Sainte-Marie as the 2020 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award.
“Buffy Sainte-Marie sets the bar for everything the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award stands for,” said Gary Slaight, CEO and President of Slaight Communications/Slaight Family Foundation. “For [Sainte-Marie], worldwide success and the status of music legend was not a personal goal, but an opportunity – an opportunity to try to right wrongs, an opportunity to give back to the planet, and an opportunity to alter the course of Indigenous lives through education.”
Fuelled by her dedication to music, art, philanthropy, social activism, and education, Sainte-Marie has been active in the music industry for over six decades. Thought to be born in Saskatchewan on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Sainte-Marie was adopted to American parents and grew up in Massachusetts. This is where she discovered piano at a young age, and fostered her talents for music by composing songs and learning to play guitar. When she emerged onto the music stage in the 1960’s folk era, she was already writing diverse songs that would become international classics in country, rock, jazz, and pop.
Sainte-Marie began advocating for the protection of Indigenous intellectual property and performers from exploitation when she founded the Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education in 1966. The Foundation has since provided students and teachers with scholarships and teacher training, as well as access to core curriculum written from within Native American cultural perspectives that match National Content Standards. Most recently, she has focused her advocacy on The Creative Native Project, which seeks to empower and inspire Indigenous youth to explore the field of creative arts and live production by creating community arts weekends under the guidance of professional mentors.
Each year, Slaight Communications and Canadian Music Week awards an outstanding Canadian artist, in recognition of their contribution to social activism and support of humanitarian causes. In this, its 10th year, Buffy Sainte-Marie will join the celebrated list of recipients which include: Gord Downie, Arcade Fire, RUSH, Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams and others.
Sainte-Marie will be honoured for her work over the last 60 years as a trailblazing musician, activist and educator at the annual Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards Gala at Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
Canadian Music Week will return to Toronto May 19 – 23, 2020.