Adrian Sutherland is from the Mushkegowuk Cree community of Attawapiskat, situated on the coast of the James Bay in Northern Ontario. He is a singer/songwriter and frontman for the band Midnight Shine, making ‘radio-friendly’ music that draws upon his own personal experiences, while reflecting universal themes like family, home, love and loss.
In addition to making contemporary rock music, Sutherland – who is fluent in Cree – is a traditional knowledge keeper. He takes part in ceremonies, participates in spring and fall harvests, sings pow wow, and is a genuine example of someone who lives authentically and pays homage to his culture. 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 rock bands is the depth of Adrian’s exploration of his First Nations’ identity, values, tradition, and life in the North. Midnight Shine caught the attention of Ralph James from Toronto (APA Agency/United Talent Agency/The Agency Group), one of the most renowned and respected booking agents in Canada. Ralph has since become one of Midnight Shine’s biggest supporters and industry champions, and is helping take their music career to the next level.
Adrian cares very 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 the past three years in the role of Chief Executive Officer for Economic Development in Attawapiskat – a position he left recently, in order to make more time for his music career, growing family, and community cultural obligations.
A graduate of Northern College in Timmins, Adrian completed his Business Management Diploma in 2014 with studies in accounting, human resource management, marketing, communications, and community relations. Prior to that, he pursued the education and certification necessary 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. He is passionate about facilitating workshops and sessions for youth, and ensuring that young people have access to education and opportunities. He was instrumental in bringing the Toronto-based ArtsCan Circle program to Attawapiskat, and gets great satisfaction from helping kids discover their artistic talents.
While Adrian’s home has been the subject of negative media attention in the past, he would like to change those perceptions through the work he is doing with Midnight Shine: “There are many good stories to be told from Attawapiskat, and from all over the North. I hope we’re one of them.”