On Monday, a handful of Canadian Inuit artists banded together to boycott the Indigenous Music Awards (IMAs) after they nominated a non-Inuk artist whose music revolves around throat singing, an Inuit custom.
Some of the artists who have announced their participation in the protest include Tanya Tagaq, PIQSIQ, and Kelly Fraser, who revealed that they would be withdrawing from the awards completely, by pulling appearances, nominations, and performances from the ceremonies until the IMAs announce that they will be adding Inuit representation to their board.
Due to issues surrounding cultural appropriation, I will not be performing at, attending, nor submitting my work to the @IMAs unless they revise their policies or have Inuit representation on the board for consultation.
— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) March 31, 2019
According to CBC, the artists have spent months trying to address the problematic cultural appropriation by reaching out to the festival and the non-Inuk artist, but PIQSIQ’s Tiffany Ayalik explains that there was no improvement after contact. As a result, they decided to announce the boycott until there is greater Inuit representation.
We have withdrawn PIQSIQ's album from its 2019 @IMAs nomination. We look forward to submitting future work once our concerns of cultural appropriation are taken seriously and policies are in place to prevent it from happening again. #inuitthroatsinging is for #inuitreclamation
— PIQSIQ_music (@piqsiq) April 1, 2019
The group of artists partaking in the boycott refuse to mention the musician in question so that the conversation remains on cultural appropriation of a tradition rather than about the nominee themselves, with a focus on IMAs implication in this process.
Until the Indigenous Music Awards board of governors addereses the issues around #culturalappropriation, I will not be submitting any more of my music to the IMA’s until there is Inuit representation on the board. #imas #inuit #throatsinging
— Kelly Fraser (@Iskellyfraser) March 31, 2019
“We have been presented with a very difficult task,” the IMAs released in a statement. “To decide if an individual artist is over stepping creative boundaries that some feel is not her right.” Read the statement in full below.
— Indigenous Music Awards (@IMAs) April 2, 2019