The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced iconic singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, social activist, educator, philanthropist and visual artist Buffy Sainte-Marie as the recipient of the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, presented by Bell Media. The award, which began in 2006 with recipient Bruce Cockburn, recognizes an outstanding Canadian artist whose humanitarian contributions have positively enhanced the social fabric of Canada and/or whose impact can be felt worldwide.
“It’s our privilege to present the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie with the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award,” said Randy Lennox, President, Broadcasting and Content, Bell Media. “Her dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous people is truly humbling. We look forward to celebrating this iconic artist and her inspiring philanthropic work at this year’s JUNO Awards.”
Born on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan, Sainte-Marie is celebrated for her thought provoking lyrics and her passion for supporting Aboriginal people. In 1964, she became well known for her anti-war peace anthem “Universal Soldier,” and was one of the first people to merge pop and Aboriginal music with her 1976 hit “Starwalker.” Sainte-Marie’s 2015 album Power in the Blood won the 2016 JUNO Awards for Aboriginal Album of the Year sponsored by Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, as well as the Polaris Music Prize.
“I’ve had some great partners in mobilizing my ideas in art, education and technology, especially the W.K. Kellogg Foundation who taught me that there’s a difference between an administrator and a visionary. Both are important but visionaries are seldom pushy in that business way that administrators learn; and visionaries don’t think in corporate pecking order terms so often get squashed out in normal business systems,” said Sainte-Marie. “I’ve been lucky enough to work in both worlds, and although my timing has sometimes been off and gotten my big mouth into trouble, other times, with the help of other people, I’ve been effective beyond my expectations. So I thank all my colleagues in and out of the music business for helping put my songs to work.”
This year’s award will be presented at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards presented by SOCAN on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.