4 radical moments in Junos history, from Alanis Morissette to Rascalz

Artists take on representation, censorship and more.

Artists take on representation, censorship and more.

Singer Alanis Morissette hosted the 2004 Juno Awards in Edmonton, Alta. (Getty Images)

The Junos are a time to celebrate Canada's greatest musicians, but it's also a place where artists can go to make a statement. 

Over the years, artists have used their (literal) platform to share important messages with the million-plus viewers in the hopes of inspiring change and challenging perspectives. 

Below are four amazingly radical and political moments from Junos history.

1995: Buffy Sainte-Marie shines a light on Indigenous artists and communities

When Buffy Sainte-Marie was inducted into the Hall of Fame, she honoured all the "remote communities" that may be overlooked by Canadians, especially touring musicians who often only hit up big cities. She also shouted out "all the grassroots Indian artists who haven't yet taken home a Juno, but who continue, as they have in the past, to capture our hearts at powwows across Canada, doing that magic which music does so well." (The Indigenous music album of the year award, then called the best music of Aboriginal Canada recording award, was first introduced the year before, in 1994.) 

Buffy Sainte-Marie is Inducted into the Juno Awards Hall of Fame (1995) | Junos Vault

4 years ago
Duration 2:15
"But when the hits calm down a little, some of us escape into the dark beyond these spotlights, and we discover the rest of Canada." — Buffy Sainte-Marie

1999: Rascalz make hip-hop history at the Junos

After refusing to accept the award for best rap recording in 1998 because it wasn't a televised award, Rascalz returned in 1999 not only to perform their hit, "Northern Touch," but also accept their second consecutive best rap recording award on air. The group took the opportunity to address the media and its coverage of hip-hop, as featured artist Kardinal Offishall warned everyone onstage: "You've got to be serious with this hip-hop. This is no joke." ​ 

Northern Touch All-Stars Protest lack of rap representation (1999) | Junos Vault

4 years ago
Duration 2:19
"You gotta be serious with this hip hop. This is no joke." — Kardinal Offishall Revisit the Northern Touch All-Stars' 1999 acceptance speech for best rap recording, which highlighted the lack of industry support for Canadian hip hop.

2004: Alanis Morissette takes on censorship 

Alanis Morissette hosted the 2004 Juno Awards and in a funny bit, she addressed an incident in which a lyric of hers was censored in the U.S. She then praised Canada for being the "True North Strong and Censor-Free," but quickly learned that some of those same censorship problems also exist north of the border. 

Alanis Protests Censorship (2004) | Junos Vault

4 years ago
Duration 1:48
'You oughta know' about Alanis Morissette's anti-censorship protest at the Junos in 2004, shortly after Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl 'wardrobe malfunction.'

2017: Sarah McLachlan urges people to choose love over division and hatred 

When Sarah McLachlan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, she gave an impassioned speech that touched on female empowerment, diversity and the "scary times" we are still living in today, both socially and politically. "We need to remember to hold on to our light, out goodness, and strive to choose integrity and love over division and hatred." 

Sarah McLachlan is inducted into the Juno Awards Hall of Fame (2017) | Junos Vault

4 years ago
Duration 1:52
Congrats to our 2019 The JUNO Awards host - Sarah McLachlan! Here's a quick clip of Sarah McLachlan being welcomed into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 2017 Junos.

Wherever you are on March 17, you can watch the Juno Awards live from Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., at


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