The hard-hitting rap group Winnipeg’s Most garnered some serious metal at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards (APCMA) on November 4, winning all six categories in which they were nominated. The APCMAs was the crowning moment of the Manito Ahbee Festival, a celebration of music, the arts and other aboriginal accomplishments.
“It was great to be recognized by our peers in Indian country, and it was great to win that many awards,” said group member Jon-C. “After the first few awards I didn’t even know what to say anymore.”
Winnipeg’s Most consists of Jon-C, Charlie Fettah and Brooklyn. On Thursday, November 3, at the RBC Ohshkii Awards—given out the day before the APCMAs—they, along with Rezofficial Music producers Stomp and Jay Mak, received APCMAs as best duo or group, best producer or engineer, best music video and best album cover design. The following evening they snared best rap/hip-hop CD (GoodFellaz) and best single of the year (“Don’t Stop”) at the APCMAs.
More than 4,000 people attended the main awards ceremony, which was broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), hosted by actors Lorne Cardinal and Kyle Nobess, and included musical performances by Derek Miller, Ghost Keeper, Elisapie Isaac, Kelly Daniels, Don Amero and Samian, as well as Florent Vollant, Pacific Curls and the C-Weed Band with Ali Fontaine. Awards were bestowed in nine categories, including aboriginal entertainers of the year Leela Gilday and Derek Miller.
Miller, who won both male aboriginal entertainer of the year and songwriter of the year, was overwhelmed by his experience at Manito Ahbee and the APCMAs. “It was a fantastic time in Manitoba—I was very humbled by it—I feel great as well because I work really hard at what I do in trying to bring music to the people,” he said. “I am really happy that I got recognized for some of my work. I try to have as much fun as possible doing it.”
He is not resting on his laurels, though. “My band is an amazing band with amazing musicians,” he said. “I am in a really good position to do the next thing and see what is going to happen. My next record will be a totally different thing than people are probably used to hearing. I am excited to start.”
Miller also lauded Winnipeg’s Most: “Winnipeg’s Most has got a great youth following with hip-hop music, and I think that Native populations and the youth movement really respond to what they are singing about. I think it is a great thing they are working with [producer] Stomp, and making songs and beats that sound really good. All the power to them, it was awesome to see, and hopefully they can take a crack at the mainstream. They have the initiative and the momentum to keep pushing.”
An ebullient Leela Gilday, who won as female aboriginal entertainer of the year, was equally moved. “It’s always so powerful to be around a ton of Native people, many of whom are so healthy and positive,” she said. Her award, she added, “felt like a giant hug from my nation, like a big vote of confidence in the path that I am walking, and for the music that I make and the songs that I write.”
Like Miller, she expressed surprise as well as gratitude.
“It was different from a lot of the awards that I’ve received in that it was not connected to any particular album or song, but instead was about what I’ve done as a musician/entertainer in the last year,” she said. “My acceptance speech was all about how inspired I am by all of my people, as a Native person, and how thankful I am to be able to tell the stories that are important to me.”
Gilday said she plans to record a new album, perhaps in the next year.
In addition to the APCMAs, the Manito Ahbee Festival also offered an abundance of opportunities for attendees to immerse themselves in First Nations arts and culture. Among the high points were the International Competition Powwow, the Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show, and Education Days. Torry Marie Eagle Speaker was crowned as Miss Manito Ahbee Travelling Princess, and Ali Fontaine received the most outstanding Manitoban award.