An Update from the ECMA Board of Directors:
“Upon review, the board has determined the nomination criteria for the Indigenous Artist of
the Year can be misinterpreted, particularly in light of the fact that the organization has no
intention of marginalizing any person’s self-identification. Though we do not question how
someone identifies their own ancestry and personal identity, we also have to be sensitive to
the reality that in order to be respectful of the Indigenous peoples of Atlantic Canada, we
must ensure that all nominees for the Indigenous Artist of the Year award have met the true
intent of the criteria for the award. Recognizing that our organization is not in a position to
determine whether or not an individual has met the true intent of the criteria, our practice
is to turn to what Canadian society has given to make this determination, which is the law,
and specifically, legal recognition of indigenous status. This is why the stated criteria for the
award follows the constitutional definition of Indigenous under Section 35 of the Canadian
Constitution Act of 1982 (noting that the Constitution uses the definition “aboriginal
peoples of Canada”), being First Nation (or Indian), Inuit and Métis.
In line with this practice, the Board of Directors has come to understand, based on research
conducted, input from government and input from many community stakeholders, that in
its current state, the law has not recognized Maxim Cormier or the community he is a
member of, the Highland Métis, as being recognized as members of the “aboriginal peoples
of Canada” under the Constitution. Consequently, we have made the difficult decision to
withdraw the nomination of Mr. Cormier, who identifies as being Acadian/Métis, for the
Indigenous Artist of the Year award, and have so advised Mr. Cormier.
Naturally, where the nomination was originally given, this is regrettable for all involved.
We did not arrive at this decision quickly. We have consulted and researched on the matter,
and have taken into account all inputs.
The board recognizes that the nomination criteria for this category must be reviewed and
clarified. Accordingly, the board committee that oversees the nomination process, the
Awards and Stages Committee, will as part of its annual review, carefully consider this
matter, inclusive of all parties. The committee will work to ensure the criteria is more
clearly defined, specifically as it relates to self-identification.
We want to ensure that a situation like this does not happen again. The ECMA organization
has long had a respectful and collaborative relationship with the Indigenous community in
this region and we want to ensure this continues.
In the meantime, we remain steadfastly focused on the upcoming 30th Anniversary of the
ECMAs as we strive to fulfill our mission to develop, advance and celebrate East Coast
Chair of the ECMA Board of Directors