Debajehmujig Storytellers named a Premier Awards Arts finalist

WIIKEMKOONG—The Debajehmujig Storytellers is among the finalists announced for the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

Ontario is celebrating the 18 finalists for the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and the Debajehmujig Storytellers is on the list of nominated groups. The awards recognize the extraordinary achievements of the province’s artists and arts organizations. The 2017 laureates will be announced at an award ceremony at Canada’s National Ballet School on October 30 in Toronto.

“Congratulations to this year’s nominees for their excellence in the arts and their meaningful contribution to society,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. “We know the arts enrich our lives and contribute to the wellbeing of individuals and communities, which is why these awards are so important and why we are committed to supporting and strengthening this valuable sector.”

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon said, “it is my privilege to congratulate this year’s finalists for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. These artists and art organizations exemplify why our government remains so committed to supporting arts programs and activities across the province. Their works live in our theatres, galleries and public spaces, bringing people in Ontario together and enriching our communities.”

The Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts program is administered by the Ontario Arts Council and recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts in Ontario. Artist and arts organization finalists were selected by a jury comprised of individuals from the arts and culture communities. Each emerging artist finalist was selected by an artist finalist.

“When people take the time to nominate a professional artist or arts organization for this important award, they are in fact recognizing the tremendous contributions that these artists or groups make to their communities and to their art form,” said Rita Davies, chair of the Ontario Arts council. “The government’s recent funding increase to OAC is an acknowledgement that our arts community is vitally important to us, our economy and our society’s wellbeing.”

The Debajehmujig Storytellers are listed in the arts organization award division. “Debajehmujig Storytellers, one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous creation companies, is recognized by their community as the modern-day expression of a long line of storytelling tradition. (“Debajehmujig” is the Anishinabek word for “storytellers” or the “keepers of the stories.”) The organization is based at the Debajehmujig Creation Centre, which is equipped with a black box studio, recording studio, media lab, animation and editing lab, carpentry shop, costume shop and more.”

“Debajehmujig Storytellers is dedicated to sharing and educating on Anishnaabek language, culture and heritage through original creative expression, with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. It aims to improve the lives of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. In their own words, “it is our responsibility to become the best ancestors that we can.”

The winning artist chosen from among the finalists will receive $35,000 and selects a new or emerging artist who receives $15,000. The winning arts organization is awarded $50,000. The remaining finalists in both categories each receive $2,000.