HomeEntertainmentNorthern Que. Cree nation artists spotlighted at Canadian Music Week

Northern Que. Cree nation artists spotlighted at Canadian Music Week

A group of Cree Nation artists from northern Quebec is getting ready to be part of a showcase at Canadian Music Week, the biggest entertainment gathering in the country.

It’s happening this week in Toronto. 

Canadian Music Week is on until June 11, bringing together artists, producers and entertainment industry professionals. It is a combination of conferences, a trade exposition, an awards show and a four-day, 40-venue new music festival, showcasing talent from across the country. It is the biggest annual entertainment event in the country.

Fourteen Indigenous artists who are part of N’we Jinan ArtWorks program at inPath will be performing at a showcase during Canadian Music Week on June 9 at The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave in Toronto.

InPath is a Canadian not-for-profit aimed at creating a network for Indigenous youth and artists through arts-based learning, job skills training and mentorship. 

Five of the performers at the Artworks showcase are from northern Quebec Cree communities; CJAY GriZ (Christian Monias); Siibii (Angel Baribeau); Vangorian (Franklin Moar); Jossée Bernier and SLICE (Silas Katapatuk). 

Below are their thoughts about attending Canadian Music Week, connecting with other Indigenous creators, the healing power of music, finding their authentic voice and their goals as an artist.

CJAY GRiZ 

CJAY GriZ (Christian Monias). (inPath)

CJAY GriZ (Christian Monias), 31, is Oji-Cree originally from northern Manitoba, but living in the northern Quebec Cree community of Chisasibi.

CJAY has been a music producer/songwriter since his early teens, and first gained work as an artist through the N’we Jinan program. His styles range from hip-hop and trap to R&B and pop music. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=https://music.youtube.com/playlist

“What I want to be able to do in the future is help more kids. And maybe have my own workshops and I also want to get a studio started in Chisasibi so people can own their craft. A place where people can rehearse, practice, make and record,” he said.

“I think that’s very much needed in this community. We need a facility where we can own our own culture and craft. It’s going to be exciting for all of us to get together [at Canadian Music Week]. That energy is going to be what we need to put on a really good show.” 

Siibii 

Siibii (Angel Baribeau). (inPath)

Siibii (Angel Baribeau), 21, is a queer, non-binary singer songwriter and recycle artist from the Cree Nation of Mistissini in northern Quebec.

Their debut solo album For Those I Love(d) hit the top 3 on Apple Music Pop Canada charts. Their second single Wish We Were Older hit No. 1 on NCI FM National Indigenous Music Countdown on SiriusXM Canada. Siibii will have a second showcase on June 8 at the Cameron House in Toronto for winning Canada’s Walk of Fame RBC Emerging Musician Award in 2021. 

“[Changing my name to Siibii] is part of reclaiming my identity and self discovery that is going on. I was raised by someone who told me to always be proud of being Quebecois, but I’m mostly Eenou. So I carried this name, but it doesn’t have the same meaning for me as it does for my father, for example,” they said.

“But having a name [Siibii] that reflects where I come from and who I am, I think has a lot more meaning. I’m really excited to step into this new era of Siibii performances. Even just representing Eeyou Istchee [Cree territory in Quebec] I want people to say ‘hey, Siibii, that’s a word I know … that’s river!'”

Vangorian

Vangorian (Franklin Moar). (Catherine Orr)

Vangorian (Franklin Moar), 24, is a Cree producer and DJ from Chisasibi Cree Nation in northern Quebec. A fully self-taught artist, Vangorian is recognized for his signature synth-pop melodic beats and heavy remixes that transcend the dance and electronic music worlds.

A high-energy performer, Vangorian has extensive DJing experience and well developed mixing abilities. Vangorian has released two EPs, Different Worlds (2019) and Nebula (2020), both available on all major streaming platforms.

“For many youth, there are many difficult things they are going through, drinking, drugs. They are consumed with these things in their lives, they find it hard to go forward with that. For me I try to look after myself everyday. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke either. I like that practice, that way of life and I don’t want to do things that are not good for me, even when it gets hard at times, when one falls into that,” Vangorian said.

“I still try hard to keep going and stay focused on what I am doing. ‘Do your best’ I was told, that is what I want to do all the time. For me I want to do what I like and that is what keeps me going and why I am doing it.  At first, it was hard but as you continue to do it, it gets easier too. Don’t give up!”

Jossée Bernier

Jossée Bernier. (inPath)

Jossée Bernier, 27, is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist from the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou in northern Quebec.

While her primary artistic practice includes painting and singing, she naturally connects with multiple forms of creative expression including graphic design, photography, and the traditional Cree practice of embroidery and sewing.

“I want to give a huge, huge shout out to inPath and the Emerging Artists Program for just being such a cool space and outlet and network of artists … to really inspire me to honour the artist that I am. It’s taken me a long time to figure out creatively where I wanted to go, and what I saw myself doing and even what I was capable of doing,” she said.

“In the past two years that I’ve been a part of the program, I feel like I’ve been able to hone in on the kind of artist that I am and what I want to create and how that ties into my purpose. It’s important to me that anything I do in life comes from this purpose.” 

SLICE (Silas Katapatuk)

SLICE (Silas Katapatuk). (inPath)

SLICE (Silas Katapatuk), 29, is a Cree Hip-Hop artist and emerging producer from Wemindji First Nation in northern Quebec. His sound is a fluid blend of pop, trap, rock, and everything in between, built on a foundation of guitar and bass.

His lyrics are in both Cree and English, a true reflection of his commitment to revitalizing his ancestral language. In 2014, SLICE was featured on N’we Jinan’s Vol. 1 album that reached No. 1 on iTunes.

“I’ve been doing hip-hop workshops and songwriting and beat making workshops in other communities in Eeyou Istchee. [At Canadian Music Week] I would like to establish some networking and meet new people in the industry, like producers and managers,” he said.

“It helps you grow as a musician, artist or whatever you are trying to do in the music industry. And [Canadian Music Week] is a big event where lots of producers and industry people will be attending.” 

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