Debajehmujig Storytellers wins Ontario award for Excellence in the Arts

ONTARIO—The Debajehmujig Storytellers organization is the winner in the Arts organization category of the Ontario Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. The 11th annual ceremony, held this past Monday, celebrates outstanding Ontario based-artists and arts organizations.

“Congratulations to the laureates and finalists of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, in announcing the winners. “The passion you bring to your work inspires us and fuels the extraordinary cultural life of our communities. Artistic expression encourages thought, sparks creativity and challenges us to look at things differently. It’s my hope that these awards will shine a spotlight on the wonderful work that the talented laureates and finalists do. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the many positive benefits that the arts can bring to our lives.”

Rita Davies, chair of the Ontario Arts Council said, “we are delighted to recognize Kent Monkman (a painter, sculptor, filmmaker and performer of Cree Ancestry, who won the individual art award), Debajehmujig Storytellers (of Wikwemikong), and Brian Rideout (emerging artist of the year) as this year’s laureates. Each of them offers a distinctive vision of how the arts can influence our lives and society by reimaging history, developing community and exploring representation. Congratulations to the three laureates, and all of the 2017 finalists.”

Debajehmujig Storytellers has gained an international reputation for land-based art.

Debajehmujig Storytellers is one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous creation companies and the country’s first, and only, professional theatre company located on a reserve. The company shares the Anishinaabek language, culture and heritage with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people through original creative expression.

Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, announced the winners of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts at a ceremony Monday night at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto.

The awards recognize Ontario’s professional artists and arts organizations for extraordinary achievements that strengthen Ontario’s vibrant culture sector. Artists and organizations working in publishing, dance, theatre, music, craft, visual arts, media arts, literature and multi-disciplinary arts are eligible for these awards.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said, “art challenges us and inspires us to think beyond our experience-and even beyond what seems possible. I am honoured to recognize the winners and finalists in this year’s Premiers’ Awards for Excellence in the Arts for their outstanding contributions to our vibrant cultural life in Ontario. The work you do educates and provokes us. Art in every form shows us new perspectives and provides opportunities to bring communities together. Thank you for everything you do to make Ontario a richer, more interesting place for us all.”

The Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts program is administered by the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). Winners are selected by a jury of artists and arts professionals. Artists and arts organization finalists were selected by a jury comprised of individuals from the arts and culture communities.