Indigenous Music Awards | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Indigenous Music Awards

The Indigenous Music Awards (formerly the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards) were founded by Catherine Cornelius and Ron Robert in 1999 to recognize, honour, and celebrate the breadth of Aboriginal music making in Canada.

The Awards are coordinated by an advisory committee, comprising prominent members of the Canadian Aboriginal music community; an executive producer (Robert); and an executive director (Cornelius). Award recipients are announced at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards Gala, held each November as part of the Canadian Aboriginal Festival. The Awards were staged in Toronto 1999-2008 and Hamilton, beginning in 2009. The Gala has been webcast live from the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards home page.

Selection Process

Artists must be Canadian Aboriginal (status, non-status, Métis, or Inuit) by birth, adoption, or community acceptance to make a submission to the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Awards have been distributed in as many as 29 categories ranging from blues, rock, and hip hop, to traditional flute, hand drum, and pow wow music. Submissions in each category are assessed by a small panel of music industry professionals, over half of whom must be Canadian Aboriginal. The panel chooses finalists in each category before selecting a winner. The advisory committee selects the winners of three special awards: the keeper of traditions award, the lifetime contribution to Aboriginal music award, and the music industry award. Recipients of these awards have included Sadie Buck (keeper of traditions award, 2001); Buffy Sainte-Marie (lifetime contribution to Aboriginal music award, 2008); and Susan Aglukark (music industry award, 2010).


The Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards have increased the exposure of Canadian Aboriginal music and musicians and have introduced audiences to the diversity of Aboriginal music making in Canada. Sainte-Marie has credited the Awards with giving Aboriginal musicians a voice in the Canadian music industry.

List of CAMA Awards

General CAMA Categories

Best Album Cover Design
Best Album of the Year
Best Female Artist
Best Group or Duo
Best Male Artist
Best Music Video
Best Original Score in Aboriginal/Indigenous Theatre, Dance, or Film/Video Production
Best Song - Single
Best Songwriter

Genre-Specific CAMA Categories

Best Blues Album
Best Country Album
Best Female Traditional/Cultural Roots Album
Best Fiddle Album
Best Folk/Acoustic Album
Best Hand Drum Songs Album
Best Instrumental Album
Best International Album
Best New Age/Alternative Album
Best Pow Wow Album - Contemporary
Best Pow Wow Album - Traditional
Best Rap or Hip Hop Album
Best Rock Album
Best Traditional Flute Album

Industry Awards

Best Producer or Engineer
Best Aboriginal Music Radio Program
Best Television Program or Special Promoting Aboriginal Music

Further Reading

External Links