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Buffy Sainte-Marie is a living legend, and a tireless advocate for Indigenous rights and freedoms. She is an innovative artist, an educator, and a disruptor of the status quo who is always moving herself and society forward.
Thought to have been born in 1941 to Cree parents on the Piapot Cree First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan, Buffy was adopted as a child by a Massachusetts family of Mi'kmaq descent. She has since spent her whole life creating, while blazing trails: she made one of the world’s first electronic vocal albums, she was the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar and the first woman to breastfeed on national television, and she was a pioneer of the digital art genre. She also wrote the definitive anti-war anthem of the 20th century, “Universal Soldier”, as well as pop standards sung and recorded by Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, to name a few.
Buffy has also been a changemaker in education by progressing awareness of the presence and vibrancy of Indigenous culture through the Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education, the Cradleboard Teaching Project, and as a cast member on Sesame Street.
Her prolific career is recognized through countless awards, including JUNOs, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, as well as many inductions and honourary doctorates. Buffy’s legacy is firmly grounded as a global music icon and trailblazer.
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Speak Up! is curated by David McLeod (member of the Pine Creek First Nation, MB), Indigenous programming consultant.