This past Monday night, the Toronto-based Tobique First Nations singer and composer, took home the Polaris Prize for his excellent album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Dutcher’s album of reinterpreted Tobique music, sung in both English and the First Nations dialect of Wolastoqey, beat out the likes of Daniel Caesar, U.S. Girls, and Alvvays.
During his acceptance speech, Dutcher addressed the audience in both English and Wolastoqey, proclaiming “Psiw-te npomawsuwinuwok, kiluwaw yut. All my people, this is for you… What you see on this stage tonight, this is the future. This is what’s to come.”
Since its introduction, the Polaris Prize has championed the wide plurality of musical voices within Canada, with Owen Pallet’s project Final Fantasy beating out more defined Canadian acts such as Metric and the New Pornographers to take home the inaugural prize back in 2006. Since then, winners have included Arcade Fire, Tanya Tagaq, and Kaytranada. Dutcher’s win is the latest step in a widening critical spotlight and embrace of indigenous music in Canada, with the Polaris Grand Jury also having awarded the prize to First Nations musicians Tanya Tagaq and Buffy Ste. Marie in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Dutcher’s victory also came with a $50,000 monetary reward. The nine other Short List nominees each received $3,000 courtesy of Slaight Music.
Watch Dutcher’s performance from last night’s 2018 Polaris gala below: