Buffy Sainte-Marie to Receive Allan Waters Humanitarian Award At Juno Awards

By Aaron Brophy 1/18/17 | www.samaritanmag.com

Buffy Sainte-Marie — photo by Annie Leibotvitz
Songwriting legend and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie, whose songs include "Universal Soldier" and "Now That the Buffalo's Gone," will be this year's recipient of the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the 2017 Juno Gala Dinner & Awards April 1 in Ottawa, Ontario.

The Allan Waters Humanitarian Award is an honour awarded by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) to Canadian musicians who've made significant efforts towards humanitarian causes throughout their career. Since the award was established in 2006 it has been given to the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Neil Young, Rush, Arcade Fire and Bryan Adams.

"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 in a statement on the Juno Awards website. “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."

A stalwart activist for peaceful causes and the rights of aboriginal peoples, Sainte-Marie founded The Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education dedicated to improving education and promoting awareness of Native American people and cultures in 1969. One of its releted programs, the Cradleboard Teaching Project, was started in 1996 to introduce Native American children to enriching, accurate information about their peoples and cultures in an educational setting.

Samaritanmag did an extensive interview with Sainte-Marie in 2015, captioned 50 Years of Activism and Music. In the wide ranging conversation, she explained the purpose of her foundation.

"Yeah. The Cradleboard Teaching Project is the main initiative of the Nihewan Foundation. I founded the Nihewan Foundation in 1968 or ‘69, to give scholarships to Aboriginal people who had no idea how to negotiate the path between high school and how to get to college. They just didn’t have the money. They were not connected to business people, to lawyers, to foundations. They didn’t know what the Ford Foundation was!  So I started my own foundation and it required people to apply to other foundations first, and if they were turned down twice then they could get a Foundation scholarship for my foundation," she said.

Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" was one of the major theme songs for the peace movement in the 1970s. Her anti-war, pro-aboriginal politics were largely believed to be the cause of her music getting blacklisted from American radio stations in the 1970s. During the 1970s she also made appearances on children's program Sesame Street, including one memorable episode in 1977 where she breastfed her son Dakota "Cody" Starblanket Wolfchild.

In addition to songs like "Universal Soldier" and "Mister Can't You See," she also co-wrote the hit "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. Her most recent album Power In The Blood won her the 2015 Polaris Music Prize and three 2016 Juno Awards for Aboriginal Album Of The Year, Aboriginal Recording Of The Year and Contemporary Roots Album Of The Year.

"It’s our privilege to present the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie with the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award," said Randy Lennox, Bell Media's president of broadcasting and content. "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."

Watch Buffy Sainte-Marie perform at the 2016 Juno Awards in Calgary:

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* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.