June is National Indigenous History Month. It is a time for all Canadians — Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomers — to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. Throughout the month of June, we will profile Indigenous people, and share their stories and voices, so that we can celebrate the difference they have made in their communities and to our country.
June 22: Today, we celebrate Twin Flames
Chelsey June is a proud Metis woman possessing a soulful voice and captivating songwriting skills. Jaaji is an Inuk man from a small community called Quaqtaq in northern Nunavik and a Mohawk with roots to Kahnawake Mohawk Territory outside Montreal. Before they met in 2014 while appearing on a television series, both were successful singer-songwriters in their own right. It was singing together at a campfire one night that brought the two together as Twin Flames.
In 2015, Twin Flames released their debut album, Jaaji and Chelsey June. They believe they took a chance recording their album in three languages, English, Inuttitut, and French.
“English helps us reach a larger audience but our Indigenous languages help us to reach our people and to inspire the youth to preserve languages. It also encourages non Indigenous to learn about our languages, cultures and history.”
The duo’s first album garnered the ‘Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year’ honour at the 2016 Canadian Folk Music Awards and they topped the Indigenous Music Countdown at number one with their song, Porchlight. In 2017, their second album, Signal Fire, once again won the Canadian Folk Music Award for ‘Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year,’ and in 2018, the album received seven nominations at the Native American Music Awards and won for ‘Best Folk Recording’ and ‘Duo of the Year.’ Twin Flames received the most nominations for a single act in the award’s history. In six years, they have played over 1,000 shows in Canada, United States, the Arctic, France, Australia, and Greenland.
“We hope to inspire hope and healing. We want to make reconciliation a conversation when we perform. We make all the tough subjects accessible. We always hope to open people’s hearts and minds.”
Chelsey June and Jaaji have also become advocates for mental health and overall well-being. Through various workshops, they use life experiences to educate different community groups on reconciliation, cultural appropriation and encouraging people to follow their dreams.
The duo said they are excited about the release of their first song from their third album, Battlefields.
“It is based on the mind’s inner mirror that reflects to us what we’re doing and thinking, and lets us ponder that. It speaks to mental health and the battle that many people face including them while trying to overcome their own minds. It’s a reminder that we are not alone and that it is OK to talk things through. Life is far from perfect but we must keep fighting to go on.”
A single from their new album, Omen, will be released this week, while the album will be released in August.
Click here to learn more about Chelsey June’s and Jaaji’s journey, and to listen to their music.