Canada’s Music Awards: Recapping the JUNOs

Last night, Canada's annual recording industry awards gala, the JUNOs, took place in Ottawa.

The late Leonard Cohen was awarded JUNOs for both Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau gave a speech honouring Cohen, who passed away last November. After their speech, Feist (of Broken Social Scene) performed a knockout tribute of Cohen’s "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye.”

Though Drake's name was in the running for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, Rap Recording of the Year, and the Fan Choice Award, he would only win the award for International Achievement. Single of the Year would go to The Strumbellas, Rap Recording of the Year to Jazz Cartier, and the Fan Choice Award to Shawn Mendes.

The Tragically Hip took home both JUNOs they were nominated for: Rock Album of the Year and Group of the Year. But the true Hip highlight from the evening was guitarist Paul Langlois refusing to cut the band's acceptance speech short, even after the evening's production team changed the generic cue music to the Hip's "Ahead By a Century."

"Go to commercial, I'll keep going," Paul said, after which the production team cut his mic to the TV feed and went to a commercial while he continued talking to the audience.


Hip frontman Gord Downie won Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year for his solo album, Secret Path, which tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young aboriginal boy who died trying to walk the 600 km home after escaping an Ontario residential school in the 1960s.

Downie was not present for the awards, but did give a heartfelt pre–recorded message reminding us that there are "many, many stories like this one," and called for Canadians to recognize the tragic effects of our ongoing colonial history.

July Talk

July Talk took home the Alternative Album of the Year award over an impressive list of competition, including Black Mountain, Grimes, Weaves, and Dilly Dally. Youngster Alessia Cara would also beat out vets Tegan and Sara for Pop Album of the Year.

Buffy Sainte–Marie won the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, and Sarah McLachlin was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Prior to Sarah’s acceptance speech, former US president Bill Clinton introduced a retrospective of her career via video.

Among the other big names taking home JUNOs were Kaytranada (Electronic Album of the Year), Grimes (Video of the Year), The Weeknd (R&B/Soul Recording of the Year), A Tribe Called Red (Producer of the Year), and The Dirty Nil (Breakthrough Group of the Year).

Prairie dreamboat of sorrow, Andy Shauf, unfortunately did not pick up any awards for his Polaris short–listed album, The Party. (We were rootin' for you back home, bud).

The full list of JUNO award winners can be found here.

Lead photo by Kamara Morozuk

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