Buffy Sainte-Marie opened the 50th Juno Awards on a sombre note as she recognized the pain affecting the Indigenous community.
The legendary singer-songwriter led a cold open of Canada’s biggest night in music by directly addressing the recent discovery of what’s believed to be the remains of 215 children buried at a former Kamloops, B.C., residential school.
She says while the news from Kamloops may be “shocking to some people and a revelation” it is not surprising to Indigenous people.
She called for Canadians to offer their compassion, saying that “the genocide basic to this country’s birth is ongoing and we need to face it together.”
The statement opened a show of celebration that aimed to recognize the diverse landscape of Canadian music on the Junos’ golden anniversary.
Early winners included Toronto singer the Weeknd for artist of the year and newcomer Savannah Re for traditional R&B/Soul recording for “Solid.”
Justin Bieber performed from Los Angeles against a kaleidoscopic backdrop to perform “Somebody.”
The Junos originally hoped to mark their 50th anniversary with an event at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, but Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions put an end to that goal. Instead, organizers announced they’ll return to Toronto for next year’s show.
Sign up for The Globe’s arts and lifestyle newsletters for more news, columns and advice in your inbox.