Skip to main content

'Kind of bittersweet': Manitoba singer wins international award for song on residential schools


A classical singer from Opaskwayak Cree Nation is garnering international attention for her anthem on residential schools.

Rhonda Head recently won two Global Music Awards for her songs ‘Kisakihitin I Love You’ and ‘500 Years,’ the latter being about her mother’s experience in the residential school system.

She said the awards mean a lot to her, but are “kind of bittersweet” as well.

“It raises awareness about the residential school system,” Head said.

“The song’s about my mother’s experience in the residential school system. I also dedicate it to the children that never made it out from the residential schools.”

Though Head has a long list of accolades and accomplishments, including performing at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center in New York, she said winning an international award is special because she was competing against musicians from all other the world.

“To receive two of them, I feel humbled, but I worked really hard for my music so I’m really proud of what I’ve done so far,” she said. “It’s really wonderful.”


Head wrote ‘500 Years’ at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 2015.

“I entered my hut and I just fully immersed myself in the room and I lied on the floor,” she said. “Then all of a sudden all these emotions came to me. I got up and I started writing.”

She believes she was channelling her ancestors who were using her as a vessel to write the song.

“I was crying and angry and happy, all at the same time,” Head said.

“And all of these words just flowed and that’s what came out was this song, ‘500 Years.’”

Head will be performing on Friday at 3 p.m. at Assiniboine Park as part of the celebration for the new outdoor gardens at The Leaf.

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube. Top Stories

Stay Connected