Inuit artists threaten boycott of Indigenous Music Awards over cultural appropriation

Throat singing is an Inuit custom.

Inuk throat-singer Tanya Tagaq performs in New York City (Six Shooter Records).

An allegation of cultural appropriation has Inuit artists threatening to boycott the upcoming Indigenous Music Awards (IMA).

Throat singers Kelly Fraser and Tanya Tagaq are upset a non-Inuk throat-singing artist is up for an award alongside two Inuk performers.

“We respectfully ask this woman to stop throat singing,” Fraser said of Cree performer Connie LeGrande (Cikwes).

“We asked the IMAs for an apology for allowing this to happen and to remove her album.”

Fraser said the Inuit women’s collective she is a member of has been trying to resolve the issue with LeGrande and IMA officials for almost two months.

But they decided to make the issue public on social media Monday.

“We are aware of it and are working on a press release,” said a person who answered the phone at the IMA office.

APTN is a major sponsor of the event.

LeGrande could not be reached for comment.

Tagaq and Fraser, along with Iva, said they would not attend the event until the organization revises its policies or includes Inuit representation on its board.

The awards ceremony is set to be held in Winnipeg on May 17 as part of the annual Manito Ahbee Festival.

The throat-singing duo PIQSIQ, comprised of Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Ayalik, also said on Twitter they would reject the nomination of “Altering The Timeline” for best electronic music album.

The Yellowknife-raised sisters say their decision was spurred by the IMA’s nomination of a non-Inuit artist who performs throat singing, but declined to name the musician to keep the focus on the issue of appropriation between Indigenous groups.

With files from The Canadian Press


Online Journalist / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.

2 thoughts on “Inuit artists threaten boycott of Indigenous Music Awards over cultural appropriation

  1. Is it that the non-Inuit nominee is not adept at throat-singing – i.e., does not do the form justice? In that case, I could see the objection. I wonder, how did she come to learn it? Was she taught by someone Inuit?

  2. Everyone with the “cultural appropriation” if that’s how it’s going to be. Please, if your culture did not invent a certain thing. ie mobile phones, internet, air travel…..list goes on, please stop using them and only use what your culture created. Quit being babies and share and learn from each other.

Comments are closed.