Community Development Program participants applaud her performance and album

On September 16, Haviah Mighty won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for her album, 13th Floor. The Prize recognizes the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit without regard to genre, sales history or label affiliation, as determined by the Polaris Grand Jury. 

“For me the 13th Floor is something that we remove from our reality because it is something that we don’t understand and therefore we dismiss it,” said Mighty in a Polaris release. “This is very parallel to so many of the experiences that I speak on, on this album. I’m in a room with so many different people from so many different walks of life who have acknowledged that this is something they feel is important. These people don’t necessarily share the narratives that I do or the walks of life that I have, and yet, here we are, finally on what I believe is the 13th Floor. This is the moment of resurgence where the dismissal that has existed is now being removed, and the discussion is being had. I’m so grateful that the people around me push me to be brave enough to speak my truth and to have it be acknowledged in this way.”

The Prize was awarded at the Polaris Prize Gala, held at the historic Carlu in Toronto, which featured performances by nine of the 10 Polaris Short List nominees. The Gala featured performances by Marie Davidson, Elisapie, FET.NAT, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Les Louanges, Haviah Mighty, PUP, Shad and Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Short-lister Jessie Reyez was also in attendance. 

Among the audience attendees were 40 engaged music creators, entrepreneurs and change makers, who took part in the Polaris Community Development Program (CDP), presented by Music Canada. Launched in 2018, the program partners with Canadian not-for-profit music organizations each year to improve equity and representation in the Canadian music industry to support and develop the music community. 

Participating organizations in the 2019 Community Development Program included: 

Carlu, Toronto. September 16, 2019
Photo by Dustin Rabin

  • Honey Jam
  • The Indigenous Music Alliance
  • The Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance
  • Lula World
  • Manifesto
  • Native Women in the Arts
  • The Remix Project
  • SoundCheck Youth
  • U for Change
  • Urban Arts

Two of the participating organizations had alumni represented on the Polaris Prize Short List.

Jessie Reyez joined The Remix Project program in 2014, and was a graduate of Round 11.0 of the program. 

“I always feel honoured every time I talk about the Remix Project because it’s done so much for me,” said Reyez in 2018, shortly after being nominated for four JUNO Awards. “The program and that formula works — if you go in there and you do what you’re supposed to do and you don’t waste the opportunity.”

Haviah Mighty participated in the Honey Jam showcase in 2011, 2012, and 2015. 

“For those who think they can wing a performance, I learned from Elaine that there is so much more that goes into being a strong performer,” said Mighty in a recent Toronto Star article. “(Professional musicians) understand exactly what they want to look like onstage. Nothing is a whim. My live performance is what garnered the interest of my team, my booking agent, my management.”

Prior to the Gala, participants took part in a brief information session, creating an opportunity for participants to connect with Music Canada and Polaris staff, media, and other community members in a welcoming environment. 

A selection of social media reaction from participants is included below: