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Speak Up!

Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have connected to the land; an inspirational source for music. Traditional songs have come about from dreams, ceremonies, listening to nature, prayer and life experiences.

For many nations music is believed to be sacred, primarily for its purpose; songs  are gifts for celebration, to honour, to ultimately connect to spirit. In spite of failed colonial attempts (i.e. residential schools) to silence Indigenous voices, traditional music is thriving  today. Contemporary artists have also adopted many musical styles to speak up  against injustices, dispossession, and have used music as a form of resistance. Many  artists have also shared unique cultural histories, perspectives and  languages. In doing so, Indigenous artists have fostered dialogues and understanding which have and continue to  radically shift  the Canadian paradigm  of whom First Nation, Métis and Inuit  people are. With support from TD, Speak  Up! will showcase an annual selection of First Nation, Métis and Inuit artists from across Canada who have left their mark on culture through music.

Curator's Introduction

Click here for a text transcription.

Speak Up! is curated by David McLeod (member of the Pine Creek First Nation, MB), Indigenous programming consultant.



“If I don’t use my voice, someone else will try to speak for me. Music is the language I used to break my silence, and to connect with others who feel that fight bursting in their hearts.”

— iskwē 

“Music is connected to the land it originates from. For what would two people be from different lands if not for music? All music speaks the same language to one’s heart.”

— Steve Wood, Northern Cree


Thank You

With great appreciation
Artists and artist management for their contributions to the exhibition
National Music Centre Indigenous Programming Advisory Committee (more info)

Design and Development
Curated by David McLeod
Design by Tim Neal (The Engagement Party) and Chris Pecora

With support from