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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 25, 2003 - Issue 79


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Three From Arts Community Win Prestigious National Aboriginal Achievement Award


Robbie RobertsonThree Aboriginals from the arts community – rock legend Robbie Robertson, writer Tom King and fiddler John Arcand are three of the 14 recipients to win a prestigious National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Aboriginal community's highest honour.

Robbie Robertson, one of the premier songwriters of the rock era receives the Lifetime Achievement Award for being one of the most influential musicians of his era. A native of Six Nations, Robertson's group The Band was one of rock's seminal acts. His work with Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan and Martin Scorsese is legendary.

Tom KingTom King, the writer of four best-selling novels, numerous television scripts and the creative force behind CBC Radio's Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour, receives his award for the body of work that he has created. A professor at the University of Guelph, Tom is an academic and writer of vast talent.

John ArcandJohn Arcand the undisputed master of the fiddle, has been writing and performing since childhood. With over 250 original tunes written to date, he is recognized for ensuring this important Metis tradition survives.

The 14 recipients will receive their awards at a star-studded gala evening on Friday, March 28th, 2003 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The awards will subsequently be televised by the CBC as a national network special.

The year 2003 marks the 10th anniversary of the awards that Mohawk conductor John Kim Bell created to recognize the achievements of Aboriginal professionals.

"This year's recipients are a stellar group," said John Kim Bell, founder and president of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and executive producer of the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. "It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Bill Reid received the first lifetime achievement award on the stage of the National Arts Centre and since that time 126 individuals have been recognized for their contributions to the betterment of life in Aboriginal communities and the rest of the country."

The 2003 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipients are a notable group:

  • Saskatchewan Metis master fiddler, John Arcand;
  • Winnipeg physician and Chair of the United Way, Dr. Judith Bartlett;
  • Alberta oil and pipeline expert, Mel E. Benson;
  • University of Victoria legal scholar, John Borrows;
  • Regina based professional engineer and entrepreneur, Gary Bosgoed;
  • Saskatoon engineering student, athlete, actor and community volunteer Matthew Dunn – this year's youth recipient and aspiring astronaut;
  • Ontario based writer of four best-selling novels, the creative force behind Dead Dog Cafe and numerous television scripts, Thomas King;
  • Northerner Edward Lennie, the creator of the Northern Games;
  • University of Lethbridge and Harvard lecturer, Leroy Little Bear;
  • B.C. environmentalist and fishery conservationist Chief Simon Lucas;
  • B.C. Chief Sophie Pierre, the builder of the St. Eugene Mission resort;
  • Winnipeg based community worker and language protector, Mary Richard;
  • The lifetime achievement award recipient – rock legend Robbie Robertson;
  • Vancouver based physician and AIDS researcher and advocate, Dr. Jay Wortman;

Private sector support of the awards is led by CIBC, the largest sponsor of the awards and the programs of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Other major private sector support is provided by Air Canada, APTN, BP Canada Energy Company, Casino Rama, Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., Donna Cona Inc., First Air, Hydro One, Petro-Canada, Placer Dome Inc., Star Choice Communications Inc., Suncor Energy Foundation, Syncrude Canada Ltd., TransCanada PipeLines Limited, and Weyerhaeuser Company Limited.

Public Sector support is led by Indian and Northern Affairs and the CBC with additional support from Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Industry Canada, Human Resources Development Canada and from: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Canadian Forces; City of Ottawa; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Department of Justice Canada; Environment Canada; Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Foreign Affairs; Government of the Northwest Territories; Museum of Civilization; Natural Resources Canada; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; Nunavut; Province of Alberta; Province of British Columbia; Province of Manitoba; Province of Ontario; Province of Saskatchewan; Privy Council Office; Trillium Foundation; Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Solicitor General.

The awards are a special project of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, a national charity established in 1985 by John Kim Bell. The Foundation provides financial assistance to Aboriginal students to realize their educational goals and dreams with a record $2 million in individual scholarships awarded to students this year and $14 million since inception. The Foundation organizes two career fairs annually to introduce grades 9-12 students to potential careers. This year NAAF launched Taking Pulse a new program to generate greater participation of Aboriginal people into the Canadian workforce.

For further information contact Judy Tobe, Director of Public Affairs at 416-926-0775.

Go to the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards section for photos and biographies of this year's recipients.


National Aboriginal Achievement Awards
The establishment of the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (NAAA) best exemplifies the efforts of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF) to encourage and celebrate excellence in the Aboriginal community. In 1993 NAAF established the awards in conjunction with the the United Nation's International Decade of the World's Indigenous peoples. The awards recognize career achievements by Aboriginal professionals in diverse occupations. Now entering its tenth anniversary, the awards system is the only one of its kind and has become a Canadian institution.

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