New organization formed to support Indigenous music in Saskatchewan

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) S.I.M.A founding board members Sheryl Kimbley, Donny Parenteau, Paul Lomheim and Roland Corrigal at the EA Rawlinson Centre on Thursday morning.

There will be a new voice for Indigenous music and artists in Saskatchewan.

A group of Prince Albert artists and organizers officially launched the new Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Association (SIMA) during a press conference at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Thursday.

SIMA is a non-profit organization that will support, promote, and advocate for Saskatchewan-based Indigenous artists, groups, and music. Founding board member Donny Parenteau said they started discussing the idea roughly one year ago.

“We all thought about this and brought this forward, that it’s time Saskatchewan as a province recognizes their Indigenous musicians, performers,” Parenteau said. “To all of the little ones out there that are beginning to play, you now have a platform to come to. Take on us because with this board that we have and the knowledge that comes with this board we are going to be able to help you, guide you and steer you to get to that next level. It’s no longer going to be just a dream. This is going to become reality.”

When he returned to Saskatchewan in 2002, Parenteau said he noticed awards shows always had just one Indigenous category, unlike other categories.

“There was just all of these genres of music that were being recognized and one Aboriginal,” Parenteau said. “I remember when I was nominated, fortunately, and I got in and I spoke with the person who was actually the head of the Juno Awards in Ottawa. He said ‘is there anything we can do for the Indigenous community to help’ and I said ‘yes get another category. Don’t just have one because we are talking about all genres of music that go right from powwow to singing.’ It should be recognized.”

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Donny Parenteau spoke at the announcement of the formation of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Association on Thursday morning at the EA Rawlinson Cen

The board is made up of individuals from across Saskatchewan, with a wealth of diverse and valuable experiences with the music industry. Besides advocating for Indigenous artists and music, SIMA will also have an awards show in Oct. 1 at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

“We selected a Sunday, October 1 because typically musicians always work on a Saturday, so we got to make sure it’s a Sunday,” Parenteau said. “If you are nominated you come in.”

“We have a lot of work ahead of us. We are going to be looking for funding just to make this happen because that’s what it’s all about. We are a non profit organization and we just want to see this succeed.”

The awards show idea, Parenteau believes, is a first for a province in Canada.

Along with Parenteau, other speakers at the press conference included Prince Albert-based board members Sheryl Kimbley, Roland Corrigal and Paul Lomheim.

As of right now, the board consists of Parenteau, Corrigal, Lomheim, Sheryl Kimbley, Grant Kimbley,

Dale McArthur, Darwin Roy and Yvonne St. Germaine. When the idea began to brew the first people that Parenteau called were Sheryl Kimbley and Grant Kimbley.

“We have people on our board from Southern Saskatchewan all the way to Athabasca country and I think we are going to make a difference,” Sheryl said. “I think we are going to get our people heard and I think we are going to strengthen our province. I think we are going to make a name for a lot of people that wouldn’t have had a name and most of all we are going to save some lives, which is what I am all about. So I think this is an awesome undertaking and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”

Kimbley said SIMA committed to raising the profile of Indigenous music in Saskatchewan and making continual improvement to the music community for Indigenous artists, groups, and music. The organization recognizes all genres of music and strive towards supporting all Indigenous artists, groups and music to achieve success.

They collectively feel that there is a need for such an organization in our province and communities.

“We need to recognize every single genre of music in Saskatchewan, Indigenous people. Right from drum groups, singing, right through everything, all genres,” Parenteau said.

The Prince Albert area board members said the organization and awards will be a positive thing moving forward for Indigenous people and the province. There is great talent in Saskatchewan amongst the Indigenous communities and we will do what we can as an organization to help Indigenous peoples succeed.

“It’s not just an awards show,” Parenteau said. “This is an organization that is built for Indigenous artists in Saskatchewan that they can come forward, say they need advice, (and) they need guidance. There are plenty of us up here with plenty of knowledge to get them to the next (level) because a lot of them might not know how to record a song.

“Call us. We will guide you through everything and we’ll show you how to do everything.”

The organization is already working on their digital footprint. Parenteau said they have a Facebook page people can check out, and they’re going to start setting up a membership list.

Parenteau explained that the group is working on getting a footprint.

“’The most important thing is to get the word out and let everybody know that we do exist and we are there for you,” Parenteau said. “We are a helping hand to those Indigenous artists that need it, don’t be afraid to ask.”

Thing such as membership dues and other items have yet to be settled.

“We are working on memberships to make that happen and just leave it at that,” Parenteau said.

The awards show looks to be a large event according to Parenteau.

‘Get ready for that show on Oct. 1 because it’s going to be a big one for P.A.,” he said.