Local artist Kym Gouchie recently returned from Mundial Montreal world music summit as a Stingray Rising Star in the Indigenous music category.
"It's the first award I've ever won," Gouchie said.
Winning the prestigious award propels Gouchie to the International Indigenous Music Summit where she will be showcased and she was also asked to participate in the Folk Alliance International Conference. The events are held in conjunction in New Orleans in January.
The Rising Star award comes with a $1,500 scholarship she will use to offset the expense of the New Orleans' trip.
Gouchie said it's funny how life works as she was considering taking a break after extensive touring.
"I was hoping to take a break so that I could take some space and time to create some new music," Gouchie said.
To that end she changed her mantra to 'I will only go where I'm invited.'
"And now I'm busier than ever," Gouchie said.
With the recognition she's received on an international scale, Gouchie said she feels she's at a different stage in her life.
"I feel like I've crossed over and that I'm no longer an emerging artist, that I'm actually in that professional realm of being an artist and being recognized for my 20 years of being in the business," Gouchie said. "During the last five years I really dove straight in and the reason for that is because I feel like I'm home in the community and I have the support of my community and my family."
Gouchie said she's been fortunate enough to stay at her mother's house so there's been no struggle to try to make end's meet.
"There's no way I could do what I'm doing if I had to hustle and make those bills every month," Gouchie said. "I'm in a position right now where I've raised my kids and I've moved home and I'm just surrounded by this supportive community and that really helps a lot and at the same time I've moved into this way of being where I'm being invited to sit as a professional mentor."
The invitations keep coming and Gouchie's 2020 is booked up until summer with a variety of engagements.
"It goes on and on and I just feel like I'm being told that my name really means something to people out there and I'm finally feeling the truth in that and I actually believe it now as opposed to still feeling like I'm emerging because I don't sell out theatres and I don't sell 5,000 CDs a month and I don't have a million followers - I've often looked at that as a gauge but in reality it's really about community and connecting with people on a grassroots level and it feels like I've achieved that."
Gouchie said she now sits in the same circles as her mentors, those she's looked up to and felt inspired by.
"And that feels amazing," Gouchie said.
She takes a lot of pride in her heritage and said as an Indigenous woman it's important to her to provide the support like she's been given from her community.
"How I am able to use my story of survival and resilience to hopefully inspire other women and people in general is something that I take a lot of pride in - where I'm from and who I represent - my grandmothers and my ancestors and my family and my community and I do that with integrity and with humility and I'm very mindful of acknowledging who my community is."
Gouchie said she knows this is a time of change and increased awareness for the Indigenous people's plight.
"People are listening and I have the platform of the stage to use the opportunity to share and to create awareness and to initiate change and to plant messages of hope and reconciliation," Gouchie said. "I fully embrace that this is my purpose."
For more information about Gouchie, visit www.kymgouchie.com