Menard hosts National Aboriginal Achievement Awards
Saskatchewan’s own Andrea Menard is co-hosting the 17th Annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (NAAA) this March at Regina’s Conexus Arts Centre.
This will be Menard’s second time hosting, especially appropriate in 2010, Year of the Métis. She shares hosting duties with actor Raoul Trujillo.
Known for The Velvet Devil and Rabbit Fall, the multi-talented and in-demand performer Menard considers herself to be “musician, actor, writer, and ambassador” – all important pieces of who she is.
“I’m very fortunate, I’ve done a lot of things,” she said, during a break from her volunteer work at Telemiracle as volunteer, host, and performer.
She had just finished touring the province admiring facilities, looking at innovative ways of raising funds, and getting hugs from some of the people who benefit from the annual fundraiser. “I remember being 13 or 11 saying I want to be on that show – it seemed like such a faraway dream,” she said.
And now she’s one of the talents who draws funds and attention to the cause, a favourite with her because of the good work done.
But she also has special words for the NAAA.
“It’s a phenomenal award show,” she says, adding that it ranks top in her heart because it honours not only artists but leadership in other fields of work such as justice, culture, education, media, heritage, spirituality, youth, or lifetime achievement.
“These are fields that aren’t necessarily honoured and given recognition - but these are truly great people who give their heart and soul to do their best.”
NAAA celebrates Aboriginal Canadians who have positively impacted their communities and beyond – such as Saskatchewan lawyer Donald Worme, award recipient for his contributions to law and justice. The night will also include performances from a variety of reknowned Aboriginal performers.
“These are people who are changing the world and breaking down barriers – people who need to be honoured and acknowledged,” Menard said.
Menard has just finished writing and starring in a television special based on her winter songs Christmas album ‘Sparkle’. She also completed a stage performance in ‘Home Ice’ at Saskatoon’s Persephone Theatre, a Germany tour, and performances at the Vancouver Olympics in the Athlete’s Villages, and the Saskatchewan Pavilion representing the Métis.
“2010 is a big year for us,” Menard noted, adding that it was 125 years since the Resistance in Sasktchewan. “The Awards might be honouring that – it’s appropriate and generous that I get to speak on it.
Menard said her album ‘Sparkle’ speaks about inspiring others and shining in unique ways.
“It’s about being a light and a spark on this planet,” said Menard of the importance of each person to be authentic and honour their gifts, sharing them with others.
“If I did it all for ego I would quit because the heart and purpose has to be engaged.”
She adds the writer inside her was a surprise, but she says each person has a unique voice, which the world won’t hear unless you put it down and share it.
Her songwriting process is very organic and collaborative, she said.
She has been working with the same co-writer for years now, and the process is always a bit different but very natural. She says the songs come from the heart, and sometimes feel like they’re in the air, just waiting to be written down.
“My songs are stories,” she explains, adding that she tells her songwriting partner that the same grandparents must be helping both of them. “It’s like the songs are already written when we get together.”
Last of all, Menard notes the importance of having a dream.
“Our dreams are sacred – no one on this planet can tell YOU what your dreams are. You have to be the responsible one to listen to what your heart and dreams are telling you and follow them,” she said.
“Let no one tell you ‘can’t’, because your dreams are given to you by the Creator – because you are the creator of those dreams and only you can achieve them.”
The NAAA focuses on the theme of “Potential” and the ability within everyone to achieve greatness despite obstacles.
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