“One foot in the past, one in the here and now…”
— Lyrics from Northern Man by Midnight Shine
Adrian Sutherland is from the Mushkegowuk Cree community of Attawapiskat, situated on the coast of the James Bay in Northern Ontario. He’s a singer/songwriter and frontman for roots/rock band Midnight Shine, making ‘radio-friendly’ music that draws upon his personal experiences, while reflecting universal themes like family, home, love and loss. In addition to making contemporary music, Sutherland – who is fluent in Cree – is a traditional knowledge keeper. He teaches his children to hunt, fish, and survive on the land. He participates in spring and fall harvests, takes part in ceremonies, sings pow wow, and is a genuine example of someone who lives authentically. He is a father, grandfather, and hard-working husband, proud of who he is, and where he comes from. Setting Midnight Shine apart from other bands is the depth of Adrian’s exploration of his First Nations’ identity, values, and life in the North. Midnight Shine caught the attention of Ralph James from Toronto (APA Agency), one of Canada’s most renowned and respected booking agents. Ralph has since become Midnight Shine’s biggest industry champion, helping take their career to the next level. Adrian cares deeply about First Nations’ issues and his people of the North. He worked as a paramedic for many years, providing emergency response services all over Northern Ontario. He spent three years as Chief Executive Officer for Economic Development in Attawapiskat – a position he left in March to make more time for his music career, cultural obligations, and growing family.
A graduate of Northern College in Timmins, Adrian completed Business Management in 2014 with studies in accounting, human resource management, marketing, communications, and community relations. Prior to, he pursued the education and certification to become an Emergency Medical Technician. Adrian was nominated for a 2016 Premier’s Award from Colleges Ontario for the work he does in his community and his commitment to the North. Adrian believes in being a healthy role model for the next generation – through music, arts, and sports. He was thrilled to play hockey alongside other musicians and former NHL greats at the 2017 JUNO Cup in Ottawa. He is passionate about facilitating sessions for youth, ensuring that young people have access to education, opportunities, and cultural land-based learning. He was instrumental in bringing Toronto-based ArtsCan Circle to Attawapiskat, and gets great satisfaction from helping kids discover their talents. While Adrian’s home has been the subject of much negative media attention, he would like to change those perceptions through the work he is doing with Midnight Shine: “There are good stories to be told from Attawapiskat, and from all over the North. I hope we’re one of them.”