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Jace Martin is Mohawk, Wolf Clan, from my home community of Six Nations Reserve in Southern Ontario. I first got to know Jace as Jason, a little boy in a family of six boys and one girl that came to our church in Ohsweken, ON. At twelve years old, Jace’s oldest brother Darren brought his mother Arlene to our church in the Ohsweken Community Hall. The other boys eventually came to church too.

Jace’s parents have been models of family support for their children. I remember visiting Arlene in her home and her face shining as she recounted the music and acting work of her children. Danny, Jace’s dad, was a solid and consistent person who always filled conversations with his laughter. This is the background I saw before Jace’s genius was appreciated by others in Canada and then internationally. Just as with my other church members, I pray some of my preaching was absorbed into his little boy’s heart as he ran around the church.

Jace started out as part of a rap group called Tru Rez Crew. They won Best Rap Album in 2002 and 2003 at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA). The awards continued when the Martin children started a band called The Wolf Pack and played blues music. Any Indigenous band worth its salt has to labor in the blues during their formative years. Some people say there are only two types of music to Indigenous people, country and western! But I can tell you that the blues is rooted in the Indigenous soul. Their first award, for Best Blues Album, came in 2003 at the 7th CAMA in Toronto.

The awards continued:

2004 – Group of The Year – CAMA
2005 – Blues Album of The Year – CAMA
2009 –- Blues Album of The Year – North American Indigenous Image Awards

According to Jace, his success has morphed from individual and band recognition to helping other Indigenous artists get their start in the music industry. He promotes the Indigenous family sensibilities that provide another path forward to flourishing, instead of the dog-eat-dog world of capitalist competition. 

Jace has demonstrated his development from being a performer to a music producer. He has been nominated for many awards at the Native American Music Awards (USA), Indigenous Music Awards including Pop Album of The Year and Producer of The Year. He had a USA Billboard Top 40 song "Free To Fly" debut at #35 in February 2017. He also co-wrote and produced a #1 Hit on Canada's iTunes R&B Charts, "Not Waiting Anymore" by Deanne Rose Moore in 2020.

“Honour Song" is a single from his new album Beautiful Broken Pieces. Jace’s beautifully smooth voice sings compassionately of the brokenness of Indigenous children stolen from families in the Indian Residential School (IRS) system. This contrast between the sweet vocals and the harsh reality melts my heart. This is in keeping with the spirit of the IRS survivors who wanted to tell their stories so that the wounding they received would never happen again to another generation. 

Indigenous people have the right to be bitter; some still struggle with these feelings, and rightly so. And yet the Indigenous community reaches out with forgiveness and a willingness to try again. This is the courage of a community willing to lay down its life so that others may live. I am proud to be part of Jace’s Six Nations peacemaker community.

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