A night to celebrate and acknowledge Indigenous women in hip-hop is taking place in Toronto next Wednesday.
Four hop-hop artists, Eekwol, DJ Kookum, JB The First Lady and T-Rhyme, are sharing their story while blazing the stage at the Walker Court in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Mar. 29.
The free event is in partnership with the Urban Indigenous Education Centre at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The centre exists with the goal of creating opportunities for learning from and with Indigenous communities through partnerships, professional learning, and direct wrap-around supports to enhance the overall well-being achievement of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students throughout the TDSB.
Eekwol is an award-winning hip-hop performing artist based in Saskatoon, Treaty Six Territory and is originally from Muskoday First Nation.
Open format DJ and multimedia maker DJ Kookum is from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Cold Lake First Nations, their maternal Denesuline traditional territory. Kookum currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
T-Rhyme expresses her life experiences through poetry and music and takes pride in her Denesuline and northern Cree roots.
JB the First Lady is a spoken word artist, MC and activist from the Nuxalk and Onondaga nations who also currently lives in Vancouver.
She was drawn to hip-hop after her cousins from the genre’s birthplace, New York, handed her a mix-tape they recorded from a popular countdown show. She expresses the utmost gratitude to Black and Latin hip-hop originators, who helped her connect to music, and in turn, the often lost traditions of her Indigenous culture.
“It’s just an amazing showcase with artists from where it all started to where we are now,” JB the First Lady told Now Toronto, while discussing the trajectory of Indigenous hip-hop and her excitement for next week’s event.
“It’s like such a huge honour to be included with Eekwol, the woman who paved the way,” JB the First Lady, said on performing with one of her inspirations. “She inspired all of us by being an Indigenous woman on the mic,” she continued.
The MC is passionate about capturing oral history and decolonization. She describes the AGO’s Indigenous women showcase as monumental and a figurative potlatch, which are ceremonial gatherings practiced by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States.
The cultural ceremonies were banned by the Canadian government from 1884 to 1951, as an insidious policy of assimilation by way of the Indian Act.
The show at the AGO runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit the AGO’s website.