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Nomeansno, Faith Nolan win the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize

A hardcore punk classic and a bluesy folk record are the winners of this year’s Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize. 

“Congratulations to Nomeansno and Faith Nolan. You’ve created bold, significant albums that have had a tremendous impact on Canadian music,” says Gary Slaight, president and CEO of Slaight Communications. “Thank you for making these important works of art.” 

Wrong, released by Nomeansno in 1989, won the Heritage Prize public voting category, while Faith Nolan’s Africaville received the award from the Polaris Heritage Prize jury. 

“Part of the role of the Heritage Prize is to shed light on great albums that may no longer be widely known and played, even though they laid the groundwork for many others,” notes Mary Dickie, jury foreperson of the Heritage Prize. “These two remarkable albums — a pioneer in fusing punk and metal and a song cycle about Black history in Canada — not only exhibit excellence in songwriting and musicianship but are landmarks in Canadian music history.” 

This year’s winners were selected from a wide-ranging batch of nominees, including k.d. Lang, Joni Mitchell, the Weakerthans, Jackie Mittoo, Jean Leloup, Lillian Allen, Corb Lund, Michiee Me and L.A. Luv, Stars and Rufus Wainwright.

Juror Francella Fiallos said her respect for Nolan started in her early radio days. 

“I first discovered Africaville while working at CKDU, the campus radio station at Dalhousie University. This powerful, moving collection of songs tells the story of Black Canadians in both city and rural landscapes. From songs about historical figures such as Marie Joseph Angelique and Mary Ann Shadd, to shedding a light on contemporary issues such as working in a box factory, Faith Nolan’s soaring voice and musicianship make this so captivating. This record is without a doubt a timeless treasure.” 

Of Nomeansno’s album, Wrong, it was the lack of Canadiana that made the record resonate with Ken Kelly. “Nevermind the fact that in 1989 this album didn’t ‘sound Canadian,’ it flat-out sounded otherworldly. Nomeansno essentially tossed the rule book out of the window with Wrong, crafting an album that draws from punk, prog and so much more. Thirty-two years after its release, this is a record that has stood the test of time and with good reason.” 

Learn more about this year’s winners and the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize here.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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One thought on “Nomeansno, Faith Nolan win the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize

  • I had no idea Faith Nolan was Canadian. I saw her way back in the late 80s or early 90s in Oakland, California (near San Francisco) and just assumed she was another artist from the Bay Area.

    I thought she was tremendous but she was one of the many that fell off my radar due to life changes and a radical change in what I was listening to around that time. The dark, desperate years of the 90s heralded in by the bane of my existence: Grunge that led me down the even more desperate path that was top 40 country. It served a purpose.

    I’m truly happy for Faith. She deserves some kudos. I’ll have to see if her cassette survived the digitization.


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