Music

Jeremy Dutcher and Max Kerman on sharing space and making the most of a moment

In 2019, Dutcher's Juno's speech was cut short. Thankfully he got a second chance to leave an impression.

In 2019, Dutcher's Juno's speech was cut short. Thankfully he got a second chance to leave an impression.

My Junos Moment: Jeremy Dutcher

Music

14 days ago
4:16
In 2019, Dutcher's Juno's speech was cut short. Thankfully he got a second chance to leave an impression. 4:16

When some artists win an award, they use that opportunity to thank the many people who helped them along the way. But others use that spotlight to make a statement, to say something that will resonate with the audience beyond the award. 

That's exactly what Jeremy Dutcher planned to do when he won the 2019 Juno Award for Indigenous music album of the year.

"Mr. Trudeau," Dutcher, holding his award, said bluntly. "A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like pipelines. A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like sending militarized police force into unceded territory."

But as soon as he started to talk about reconciliation, his time ran out and the music played him off. Watching that moment now, Dutcher can't help but laugh, but acknowledges that, given the space, he's going to speak from his heart. 

"I often just want to go and say what's on my heart and understand that my experience in this country as a young Indigenous person is one that hasn't had a lot of space in the media narrative," he says. 

Fortunately for Dutcher, his words struck a chord with at least one member of the audience: Max Kerman of the Arkells. 

"It takes the right kind of speaker to actually capture the room," Kerman says of that night, "and when Jeremy Dutcher won his award, the whole room quieted down." When Dutcher was played off, the boos in the audience were audible. "Clearly no one wanted him to go," says Kerman. "That moment really stuck with me for the rest of the night."

Adds Dutcher: "I was just like, OK, it's not my time to talk about this yet."

But when the Arkells won later that evening, they brought Dutcher onstage with them so he could finish what he started.   

"As I was saying," Dutcher began. "Reconciliation. Reconciliation. It's a lofty goal. It's a dream. It doesn't happen in a year. It takes time. It takes stories. It takes shared experience. It takes music. I have hope. I have to."

As the room went quiet, it was clear that it was Dutcher's time to speak from his heart after all. 

Appropriately, he ended the speech in his own language, Wolastoqey: "Nihkaniyayon ktpitahatomonen, ciw weckuwapasihtit — Nit leyic. (When you lead us, think of all of us, for the ones yet born — may that be the truth.)"

Watch the full My Junos Moment with Dutcher and Kerman above.

Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in to the 2021 Juno Awards on Sunday, June 6. You can watch live on CBC TV and CBC Gem, listen on CBC Radio One and CBC Music and stream globally at CBCMusic.ca/junos.

(CBC Music)

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