The SOCAN Foundation, with the support of TD Bank Group and Indigenous Music Awards, has presented the third annual TD Indigenous Songwriter Award to Leonard Sumner.

Sumner, a member of SOCAN, accepted the award and the accompanying $10,000 cash award and a beautifully crafted hand drum made by Robert Caribou and painted by Patrick Ross, in addition to mentorship and a showcase opportunity facilitated by Indigenous Music Awards and SOCAN Foundation.

“When I got the call on Monday, I didn’t recognize the number and thought it might have been a spam call saying I won a trip or something,” said Sumner. “However, upon finding out that I was the recipient of this award… I had a small celebration with my daughter and wife who were with me in the living room and listening on speaker. I am grateful and appreciative; this definitely goes a long way for an independent artist.”

An Anishinaabe MC and singer-songwriter, Sumner tells stories that flow directly from the shores of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, located in the heart of the Interlake of Manitoba. Sumner’s self-determined sound is evidence of his ability to simultaneously occupy landscapes of multiple musical genres, including hip-hop, spoken word, country, and R&B. With every vibration of the strings on his guitar, Leonard rattles the dust off truths that have been buried for far too long. On stage he poetically sings awake the consciousness of audiences may have been unaware of their slumber. In this era of unsettling history and healing wounds of the past, Sumner’s music is an expression of medicine that walks the line between fortitude and fragility. His current (second) album is Thunderbird.

“Indigenous artists continue to frontier a pathway that fosters tradition and innovation in music creation. The Indigenous Songwriter Award recognizes artistic excellence in songwriting achieved by an Indigenous music creator in Canada, and we’re proud to partner with TD and the Indigenous Music Awards to celebrate extraordinary music creators, such as Leonard,” said Wall-Andrews. “The award is a significant part of our ongoing, mutual efforts with TD and the Indigenous Music Awards to foster, promote and create opportunities for Indigenous music creators.”

“The Indigenous Music Awards is very excited for Leonard Sumner and congratulate him on being the recipient of the 2020 SOCAN Foundation and TD Bank Indigenous Songwriter Award.  Leonard’s music inspires through his lyrical poetry, the sharing of stories through song, and connecting with the music lover in every generation,” said Jacquie Black, manager of the Indigenous Music and Arts Program. A virtual showcase of Sumner will be premiered on the Indigenous Music Awards Facebook page on June 18, 2021.

The TD Indigenous Songwriter Award is determined by a jury of SOCAN members. This year’s esteemed panel consisted of Kinnie Starr as Jury Chair, Tiffany Ayalik and Amanda Rheaume, who carefully reviewed over 100 submissions from across Turtle Island. Former award recipients include Anachnid and Jasmine Netsena.

“Through the TD Ready Commitment, we seek to highlight artists who are typically under-represented, amplify voices, and help emerging artists as they navigate their careers. TD is proud to support the SOCAN Foundation and the TD Indigenous Songwriter Award to recognize the contributions of and celebrate the musical creations of an Indigenous songwriter in Canada. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Leonard Sumner – thank you for sharing your music with us.” Said Farah Kurji, Senior Manager, Philanthropy, Global Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group.

Applications to the 2021 TD Indigenous Songwriter Awards will open in the late Summer of 2021. Visit for more information about programs, grants and awards.