TORONTO—The video co-directed by nine- year-old Emilee Ann Pitawanakwat, who has family ties to Manitoulin Island, and star musician Andrea Ramolo has made it to the final stage of voting in this year’s Canadian Independent Music Video Awards in the folk category.
“The video has made it to the final round of voting,” stated mom Sara Pitawanakwat. “Em and I are both very excited.”
As was reported by The Expositor earlier this month, Emilee Ann Pitawanakwat starred in and co-directed a music video with Andrea Ramolo after a chance encounter last summer in Toronto. The video also features Kinnie Starr.
The video, for Ms. Ramolo’s song ‘Free,’ can be found on her album Quarantine Dream which she released last October.
Emilee Ann and her mother met Ms. Ramolo by chance when they attended a July 1, 2021 ‘Every
Child Matters’ walk in downtown Toronto. Ms. Pitawanakwat wore her ribbon skirt for the event and Emilee Ann, a fancy shawl dancer and hoop dancer, wore her hoop dancing regalia and brought her hoops and hand drum to the event as well.
When the crowd gathered at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square after the march, Emilee Ann, the sole hoop dancer at the event, was invited into the centre of the circle to dance.
Ms. Ramolo had joined the march to walk in the spirit of solidarity. While she was walking, she explained, she came upon two ladies and a young girl in dancing regalia. “I was alone but felt such a community spirit. Emilee Ann noticed and struck up a conversation. It was a conversation on a level that was like we had known each other all our lives.”
The Pitawanakwats have since become family to Ms. Ramolo.
Ms. Ramolo is a recording artist and multiple Canadian folk music award nominee as well as a substitute teacher. She was getting ready to record the video for ‘Free’ alongside Indigenous hip-hop alternative singer/songwriter Kinnie Starr when she had a dream. “The song ‘Free’ was playing and Emilee Ann was there.”
Emilee Ann worked with Ms. Ramolo on expressing her thoughts on the word “freedom” through words, arts and crafts. The video was shot only 18 days after the initial chance meeting. In the video, Emilee Ann leads Ms. Ramolo through a forest. It ends with the girl hoop dancing. Emilee Ann came up with the movements and did a hoop dance in the video.
The Pitawanakwats are from Wiikwemkoong. The senior Ms. Pitawanakwat was born in Little Current and raised in Wiikwemkoong. Emilee Ann was born in Toronto but knows the community of Wiikwemkoong very well.
“We are hoping and encouraging people to keep voting for this video,” added Ms. Pitawanakwat.
A total of six videos have qualified for this final round of voting. Voting ends at 11:59 pm on March 5.