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The National Music Centre (NMC) is adding five Indigenous trailblazers to its updated Speak Up! exhibition, opening on September 29.

The exhibition will now include Inuk artist, activist, and “O Siem” chart-topper Susan Aglukark; First Nations folk-rock duo Kashtin, known for blending Innu—an Indigenous language with as few as 13,000 speakers—into its music; néhiyaw rapper Eekwol, who uses her voice to express outrage about Canada’s residential school system and the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous woman and girls; the late Ojibway folk pioneer Curtis ‘Shingoose’ Jonnie; late Métis fiddler Andy DeJarlis; and 15 previously announced artists.

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, will also be open with free admission on September 30, the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, allowing the public to visit the Speak Up! exhibition, explore different Indigenous perspectives, and learn about Indigenous culture and experiences through the lens of music.

Featuring storytelling, audio, and artifacts, visitors to the updated Speak Up! will gain an understanding of each artist’s personal inspiration and the power of music to spark dialogue about difficult topics and affect social change. An updated virtual version of the exhibition will also be accessible for free at studiobell.ca/speak-up.

“Since launching in 2019, Speak Up! has grown to now include 20 Inuit, First Nations, and Métis voices, who have all greatly contributed to creating a longstanding legacy of social change through their art,” said David McLeod (member of the Pine Creek First Nation), Curator of Speak Up! “All of the artists have unique insights and lessons that ultimately connect to their community and the Indigenous experience.”

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Previously announced artists in the evolving exhibit include: Fiddler, composer, and luthier John Arcand, also referred to as the ‘Master of the Métis Fiddle’; singer-songwriter and First Nations activist Willie Dunn; operatic vocalist and composer Jeremy Dutcher; genre-melding singer-songwriter and activist iskwē; eight-time Grammy-nominated powwow, round dance, drumming and singing group Northern Cree; Igloolik psych-rockers Northern Haze; legendary Abenaki filmmaker and singer Alanis Obomsawin; Igloolik psych-rockers Northern Haze; the father of Inuktitut music, country-folk artist Charlie Panigoniak; Aboriginal poet, painter, broadcaster and filmmaker Dr. Duke Redbird; world-renowned Oscar-winning composer, musician, visual artist, activist, and educator Buffy Sainte-Marie; Anishinaabe singer-songwriter and emcee Leonard Sumner; Ottawa-based rock band Seventh Fire; singer-songwriter Kinnie Starr, known for straddling the lines between folk, rap, art-pop and poetry; Inuit throat singer and experimental artist Tanya Tagaq; and ground-breaking Cree hip-hop group War Party.

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The Speak Up! exhibition is supported by TD who, in 2022, increased its support of NMC’s Indigenous programming through the OHSOTO’KINO initiative, so named after a Blackfoot phrase, which means ‘to recognize a voice of.’ OHSOTO’KINO focuses on three elements: creation of new music in NMC’s recording studios, artist development through a music incubator program, and exhibitions via the annually updated Speak Up! gallery. Thanks to support from TD, the exhibition will continue to evolve and expand over the years to come.

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