Jeremy Dutcher - Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa


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Jeremy Dutcher won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Blending his Indigenous language with both classical and contemporary influences, the record has transcended across all genres of music.

Dutcher began his academic studies at Dalhousie University studying music but shifted his focus to anthropological research on his Wolastoq community where he grew up. Guided by the suggestion on a Wolastoqiyik elder, teacher, and song carrier named Maggie Paul, he began to study traditional songs which eventually led the classically-trained opera singer to start a research project at the Canadian Museum of History.

With this project, Dutcher explored an extensive collection of documents, photographs and recordings made by anthropologist William Mechling between 1907 and 1914, when he spent time in indigenous communities documenting the languages and cultures under the assumption they were soon to disappear. Among the documents, Dutcher focused on transcribing a collection of wax cylinder recordings of Wolastoqiyik people singing their traditional songs. Some of the original wax cylinder recordings are sampled throughout the album.

Originally, Dutcher says he didn't envision the transcriptions being part of an album, but as he spent more time with them at home he began to consider ways to incorporate his musical interests with his historical preservation efforts. He eventually obtained digital copies of the wax cylinder recordings that he listened to on his headphones while riding public transit in Toronto and at home in the dark.

With very little representation of indigenous peoples or cultures in the traditional classical music canon, Dutcher wanted to expose his heritage to the genre, but more importantly to him, he wanted to produce an album which brought the endangered language to new generations of Wolastoqiyik people.

Heavyweight vinyl produced by Secret City in 2023.

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