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Assembly of First Nations honours singer Jully Black for “singing the truth” about Canada at NBA All-Star game

Jully Black by AFN
Toronto R&B artist Jully Black savours the blanket ceremony from the Assembly of First Nations. AFN photo.

Canada’s Queen of R&B is the toast of the Assembly of First Nations. The country’s most influential Indigenous organization honoured Toronto singer Jully Black with a blanketing ceremony and eagle feather at the Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa.

AFN National Chief Roseanne Archibald and the AFN Knowledge Keepers praised Black “for singing the truth” during her performance of Canada’s national anthem at the NBA All-Star game.

On national television in February, Black changed the words of “O Canada” to “our home on Native land” rather than “our home and native land”.

Today, Black delivered a rousing a cappella performance of her version of the song with Chief Archibald at her side. Hear it in the tweet below.

Black’s actions in February stimulated a national conversation over Canada’s history of land theft from Indigenous peoples.

“Meegwetch Jully Black for bravely singing the truth,” Archibald said in an AFN news release. “Artists are truth-tellers.”

Black was a strong advocate for Indigenous rights for years before the NBA All-Star game performance. Shortly before singing the song, Black tweeted about the power of words.

The 1908 version of “O Canada”, by Robert Stanley Weir, is enshrined in federal legislation.

Learn more about the communities that make up Canada on the Toronto Spark website.


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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Toronto Spark editor Charlie Smith has worked as a journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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Arts for Canadians Tomorrow Society created Toronto Spark to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

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Arts for Canadians Tomorrow Society is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered on this land, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples whose arts and stories inspire us to bring communities together.