The gala was full of pomp, circumstance and achievement last night at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards, but there are some First Nations activists who feel different about this type of government or corporate recognition within their ceremony.

Music is considered Sacred by many First Nations communities who still practice the traditional way, and as a vehicle specially geared to help guide youth on their journey to adulthood. Drumming and singing are an essetial part of most traditional ceremonies. Even electric pow wows have been popping up to bring Indigenous sound to a new generation of youth and their allies.

Many have been born to the sound of the drum and will die to the sound of the drum.

This makes many very protective of this medium and they become wary of government or corporate endorsement such in the same vein as Enbridge Corp. sponsoring a pow wow. It’s not all about selling records and the collection of bling, but an affirmation that First Nations peoples still exst and are still beautiful.  

That night, the celebration of music started off with rappers Winnipeg Boyz opening the show when they wore t-shirts that read “Where are our women?” in reference to the more than #MMIW and the 1100 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

Later on, when Indigenous rapper Wab Kinew asked for a round of applause from the audience, he got a standing ovation. Wab Kinew followed by saying, “I would like to challenge all of the hip hop and rap artists in our community to stop making music with language that’s disrespectful and demeaning to indigenous women.”

This quickly prompted an Open Letter response from well-known and respected activist, Clayton Thomas-Muller, written and posted on September 13, 2014, the day after the awards. So I’m going to post this Open Letter by Clayton Thomas Muller here.

Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards and the Corporate ‘REDWASH’ Agenda – An Open Letter — September 13, 2014 at 11:47am by Clayton Thomas Muller.

Dear Indigenous Peoples Movement.

We need to talk (again) about a serious issue threatening our livelihood and our collective inherit and treaty rights known as corporate sponsorship and the ‘REDWASH’ agenda [of our artistic and education institutions]

Last night the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards (APCA) happened in my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba and some of our brightest artists and their work were recognized.

The APCA show was sponsored by some of the biggest violators of Indigenous/Treaty Rights in this country, here is a short list of these corporate criminals.

Transcanda Pipeline Corporations (Grand Rapids Mother Pipeline-Alberta, KXL-USA, Energy East-Alberta to New Brunswick pipelines)

Enbridge (Northern Gateway, Great Lakes Pipelines, Line9-Ontario-Main, Alberta Clipper-Minnesota)

Manitoba Hydro (Mega Hydro Expansion-Northern Manitoba)

Royal Bank of Canada (biggest financier of destructive fossil fuel and mining development in Canada most notably tar sands and associated pipelines.)

The Northern Company (food monopoly in northern Canada, price gouging, exploiting food deserts in First Nations Metis and Inuit communities)

These companies and their investors are committing genocide & ecocide on Indigenous peoples and our sacred lands and waters thru their operations and by funding the lobby effort to deconstruct and attack our collective rights via the termination tables agenda, yet are still able to be corporate sponsors of events like the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards.

Here is a post I put up a year or so ago on the matter of Corporate Sponsorship of another high profile event Indispire….

Couple thoughts on Corporate Sponsorship of our Indian Arts Institutions…for those of you that recently went to the Indispire Awards Show (formally National Aboriginal Achievement Awards).

You should know they approached me a couple years ago about receiving their National Award for Environmental work…I told them no thank you, and that the minor recognition I would receive to the work I do from the award ceremonies and its associated PR machine would not come anywhere close to the social capitol their corporate sponsors would receive by green washing (or redwashing in this case) their operations with my personal name or the social license to operate as business as usual in our Native Lands they receive by being showcased in front of Canada as “Good” corporate neighbours to First Nations.

When the truth of the matter is, they are the reason along with Canadian Apartheid Indian Policies that we as Native Peoples continue to suffer under colonial occupation…..we must end corporate sponsorship of our arts institutions by these genocidal corporations…having a major mining company or energy company sponsor these events is no different then having Du Marier or Players (Imperial) tobacco company sponsor our head start programs, or having a porn company sponsor a teen age body image campaign…..they bring death, cancer and destruction to our people, land and water in all places they operate

I know that many of our peoples have become dependent on the economic benefits of these artistic and educational operations for your livelihood, I am not attacking this.

I am however pointing out that this kind of private sector incursion in to our institutions like the APCA greatly supports the devolution & termination agenda of the Federal Government to devolve their legal and fiduciary obligations defined by inherit rights and treaty rights. The corporate sponsorship agenda is to ‘REDWASH’ many of the front line impacts that their investments and operations externalize on local communities like in the Alberta tar sands or in the 185 First Nations from Alberta to New Brunswick who’s water ways and hunting grounds will be effected by Transcanada pipeline’s Energy East project currently being peddled to our peoples by former National Chief, Phil Fontaine and his consulting firm Iskogen.

(Phil is also a special advisor for the Royal Bank of Canada, the biggest financier of tar sands development in Canada).

Corporations and their ‘redwashing’ corporate sponsorship agenda is designed to blind First Nations, Inuit and Metis as well as Canadians into thinking these companies are all good because hey’ they give so much back…right?

No, the money these companies give to the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards and other awards groups is nothing compared to the costs our Sovereign Nations absorb in the form of human and ecological health impacts, Treaty and aboriginal rights violations, violence against our Woman, assimilation of our youth to an inherently unsustainable world and cosmos vision that directly violates our natural laws or original instructions….

It is my belief that to be sovereign we must develop a comprehensive multi-pronged approach to becoming economically self-sufficient that is rooted in Anti-Colonialism, Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and be bio-regionally planned.

We must do this in a phased long term strategic framework that addresses in an intentional and meaningful way our dependency on these revenue streams that come from the very companies that would see us disappear like the buffalo…..

We must not be afraid to call out injustice, we must not be muted by the perceived social licence that the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards lends to these corporations…we are in a fight that is about corporate power vs the carrying capacity of our sacred Mother Earth and the communities that depend on her for their livelihood.

I challenge all the recipients of this years 2014 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards to post your thoughts about these companies and their operations in your homelands….to speak for your people who are being harmed, to speak for our water, our air our sacred earth, the cosmos and for your children yet unborn, speak out even if your voice shakes.

Facebook Community I would love to hear your thoughts on these concerns I have shared.

Ekosani Maha, Ki Na Na Skomitin

Clayton Thomas-Muller

Pukatawagan Cree, Treaty 6 Territory, posted from un-ceaded Algonquin territory

*this is my personal opinion and does not reflect any of the groups I organize for…. 

Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...