Leela Gilday wins second Juno award for latest album

Leela Gilday
Yellowknife's Leela Gilday is working on a new album in Dene language. (Supplied by Leela Gilday.)
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Yellowknifer Leela Gilday won her second Juno award yesterday, winning the Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year for her latest album North Star Calling.

This was the fifth time Gilday has been nominated for a JUNO. Gilday previously won an Aborignal Recording of the Year JUNO in 2007.

“I feel very grateful and very honoured,” she said, speaking with CBC. “It means the music I’m making, even at this point in my career, five albums in, is still speaking to people and resonating with people. The stories I’m telling them are still impacting people.” 

North Star Calling was released in 2019 and is Gilday’s fifth album.

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Her next album is set to be written entirely in the Dene language. Gilday, who is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, doesn’t speak Dene, but is working on the album with a team who speak the language. While Gilday has used Dene phrases in her music before, this will be her first work entirely in Dene.

In the past, this has meant writing the lyrics in English and then translating. But on this project, Gilday is writing all the lyrics in Dene first.

“It does take a little bit of bravery because there’s a lot of emotional work to be done when it comes to language loss,” she said in a previous interview with 100.1 True North FM. “It’s not just random that I don’t know my language, I don’t know my language because there’s a colonial policy put in place by the Government of Canada to erase native languages.”

She is also working on a duet show with her brother Jay, a fellow musician, and is also headlining the upcoming Folk on the Rocks festival.

The 2021 award ceremony took place virtually due to the pandemic. 

Yellowknife music teacher Stephen Richardson was also nominated for an award, the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, which wasn’t presented on the night of the ceremony.

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