Juno Awards scheduled for Saskatoon cancelled over COVID-19 concerns

The long running Juno Awards scheduled for Sunday Mar. 15 have been cancelled by a joint committee including province of Saskatchewan and the city of Saskatoon.

“It is with a heavy heart that we collectively confirm the cancellation of the 49th Annual JUNO Awards and JUNO Week activities in Saskatoon due to concerns surrounding COVID-19,” said the statement.

“We are devastated to cancel this national celebration of music, but at this time of global uncertainty, the health, safety and well-being of all Canadians must stand at the forefront of any decisions that impact our communities.”

Many performers from across the country have already arrived in Saskatoon for Juno week.

One of them is Adrian Sutherland lead singer of Midnight Shine who is  from the community of Attawapiskat First Nation, Ontario.  He came in to perform for JUNO week at one of the venues and to take part in the JUNO Cup because of his hockey skills. This would have been his fourth JUNO Cup.

“Overall it’s just disappointing,” he said. “I know I think we need to respect the advice are getting from the public health officials and follow the advice to try and slow this down and limit the spread of this covid-19 virus.”

Sutherland said he will now heading back home.

“It’s disappointing, I ran into one other one other artist who was supposed to be in the game as well it’s very disappointing he brought his whole family down to participate in the events,” he said.

“So it’s very unfortunate that able to do that because it’s a lot of fun and it’s also for a good cause raising money for instruments and gear to bring into schools. Again we are following the best advice we’ve been given so I think the right choice has been made.”

Juno Awards

(Kimowan Ahenakew was scheduled to perform at the Juno Awards Sunday. Submitted photo)

Another performer, Kimowan Ahenakew who us from the Ahtahkakoop First Nation and resides in Saskatoon, was scheduled to perform at the red carpet event to welcome performers as they walked the red carpet.

The women’s traditional dancer said she was happy to be given the opportunity, but understands the situation.

“Big thank you to the Canadian music industry for taking precautions to help stop the spread of covid-19, cancelling the Juno awards is a responsible action to take,” she said. “When I was asked to participate in the Juno red carpet event to welcome the Juno nominees to treaty six territory I was excited and very proud, but as the spread of COVID-19 became worse I also became hesitant to participate. I pray the pandemic becomes manageable and goes away.”

The Juno Awards join a long list of organizations that have cancelled events over the past 24 hours.

It has also hit professional sports teams.

The National Basketball Association suspended its season following the disclosure that a player for the Utah Jazz test positive for COVID-19.

The National Hockey League followed suit Thursday putting the season on hold.

Reporter / Saskatoon

Priscilla is Cree and a member of Mistawasis Nehiyawak in Saskatchewan. She has worked with APTN National News in the past as a reporter in Winnipeg, host for an entertainment segment, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wolf is an alumni of the INCA –Indian Communications Arts Program at FNUC & has a BA of Indigenous Studies from the University of Regina. She brings over ten years of experience working in media across the prairie provinces.