An extremely unpredictable Juno Awards gala took place on Monday night, during which a topless protester sneaked onto the stage, provoking the anger of Avril Lavigne, while The Weeknd, absent, emerged as the big winner of the year.
With a few twists and turns, Canada’s largest music celebration ended its tradition of discretion shortly after the broadcast began. Avril Lavigne was interrupted by a woman who climbed on stage, bare-chested and marked with protest slogans.
The pop-punk princess, surprised by the gatecrasher, hurled insults at her and demanded that she leave the stage. The person was quickly escorted off by security agents. Undeterred, Avril Lavigne later introduced the performance of rapper AP Dhillon. She later returned to accept the TikTok Fan Choice Award.
Topless woman crashes JUNOs stage while @AvrilLavigne introduces a performer. “Get the fuck off, bitch.” pic.twitter.com/FZ6OuVP6AB— John R Kennedy (@JRK_Media) March 14, 2023
This unexpected moment set the tone for an energetic gala that saw Dawn FM, The Weeknd’s resounding success, earn him the Album of the Year Juno Award. This award adds to the four trophies he won on Saturday, including Single of the Year for “Sacrifice.”
The Juno Awards
An annual awards ceremony that celebrate the best of Canadian music. Named after Pierre Juneau, the first president of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Juno Awards were first presented in 1970.
The Junos recognize excellence in various categories, including Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Artist of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and many others. Nominees are selected by a panel of experts in the Canadian music industry, and winners are chosen by the members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).
The Juno Awards are often considered Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy Awards, and are a major event in the Canadian music industry. The ceremony features performances by some of the country’s top musicians and is broadcast on Canadian television.
After pop singer Tyler Shaw announced that Toronto native Abel Tesfaye was absent from the gala, the crowd expressed its disappointment and booed.
The Weeknd reacted in a statement on Monday night: “I am so honored to be recognized like this from my beloved home country. I am so touched, and I can never thank the fans enough,” he wrote.
Other highlights included Jessie Reyez winning the Contemporary R&B Recording of the Year for “Yessie,” and Tobi winning the Rap Album of the Year for “Shall I Continue?”.
Newcomer Preston Pablo, known for his hit “Flowers Need Rain,” won the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award.
Nickelback in the Hall of Fame
The guests of honor, members of the band Nickelback, were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame after a prerecorded message from Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds was broadcast.
Earlier in the evening, guitarist Ryan Peake lent a hand – and a guitar – to host Simu Liu, who demonstrated his vocal talents in a cover of Nickelback’s “Photograph.” All members of the band took the stage under the gaze of Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. The NHL star said that Nickelback is one of those who changed the game forever.
In his speech, singer Chad Kroeger, very emotional, spoke of his band’s humble beginnings in Hanna, Alberta, saying that they had no idea what they were doing and that most of the time, they still don’t know.
Among the other artists who performed on stage were Jessie Reyez, Tenille Townes, as well as Kardinal Offishall and Haviah Mighty, who piloted a tribute for the 50th anniversary of Canadian hip-hop.
Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu was the host of the evening. The actor, who grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, hosted the gala for the second year in a row, this time from Edmonton.