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Ian Campeau

DJ, Co-Founder of A Tribe Called Red & Indigenous Advocate

Ian Campeau, also known as DJ NDN, is the co-founder & former member of the music group A Tribe Called Red (ATCR). Through a powerful combination of art and activism, he uses his notoriety to draw attention to issues of racism, gender based violence, stigmas of mental health, and other forms of oppression. He is Ojibwe, Anishinaabe from the Nipissing First Nation.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Making It
In this presentation, Ian looks at how we define success. As a leadership speaker, he encourages us to ask ourselves how much we can help vs. how much we can hoard.

Ian Calling…
As a founding member of A Tribe Called Red and a recognized activist and ally, Ian is keenly aware of the power of his art in creating positive change. Ian taps into the conversations we’re having on campus and in our communities, and the ones we need to be having more of. In this interactive, one hour show, Ian engages students on topics that matter to them such as mental health, identity, anti-racism, allyship, consent, pop culture, and current events. You’ll hear from Ian and he’ll also pick up the phone to call on some of his friends from music, film, and TV.  Appearing by live video or phone, special guests may include names like Strombo, Tegan Quin (Tegan & Sara), Shad, Grimes, Damian Abraham, Tanya Tagaq, Chris Hannah (Propagandhi), and more. Each presentation is different from the last, with Ian connecting directly with students and a different cast of celebrities. Breaking down the barriers between students and pop culture role models, this open format allows for discussion and Q&A between students, Ian, and his guests.

Mental Health
With the success of A Tribe Called Red, Ian has experienced levels of exhilaration like no other. But success never comes easy. He’s faced some devastating lows, including an incident that made him realize the importance of taking care of one’s mental health. While touring Australia, he had an anxiety attack, severe enough to almost cancel the tour. Dealing with the loss of his father, his wife’s bout with cancer, demands around his music career and advocacy work had all taken a toll. Ian was able to get the support he needed to complete the tour and now candidly shares his ongoing experience with mental health and wellness. He discusses the pathways and potential barriers involved in recovery, while highlighting the need for creative outlets, work-life balance, and a strong support network.

Indigenous Futures
This is an opportunity for Indigenous students and youth to connect with Ian, and each other, about their experiences. Creating music for Indigenous youth, A Tribe Called Red are role models for young Indigenous people who look to find reflections of themselves in mainstream culture and media. As a youth advocate and a participant in the “We Matter” campaign, Ian stresses how important Indigenous youth are and he works to combat increasing suicide rates and mental health crises. This conversational format creates a safe and open environment for Indigenous students to discuss their goals, challenges, and experiences navigating campus life. Ian guides an interactive discussion that touches on themes of identity, community, mental health, balance between school work and social life, racism, activism, healing, reconciliation and more.

Platform Plus

Q&A/In Conversation
Ian offers fascinating discussions in interview formats. He can touch on a range of issues including Mental Health, Indigenous Issues, human rights, art, activism & more.


Juno Award | Breakthrough Group of the Year

Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards | Best Group
Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards | Best Album

Summary Profile

A charismatic, impassioned speaker, Ian draws attention to societal inequalities while promoting discussion and sharing of knowledge to help bring about change. He is political, articulate and keenly aware of the power of his art.

Inspired by parties for Korean and South Asian youth in the Ottawa region, Ian and friends began to host parties known as ‘Electric Pow Wow’ in 2007. The events feature a mixture of powwow recordings from his youth mixed with electronic music rhythms set to the backdrop of multimedia shows that re-contextualized stereotypical depictions of Aboriginal peoples from films and television shows. This was the founding of A Tribe Called Red.

The group is best known for their unique style, known as ‘Powwowstep, which combines both tradition and modern innovation. The genre fuses modern hip-hop, traditional pow wow drums and vocals, along with edgy electronic music production styles. 

After recording several EPs, the group officially debuted in 2012 with their full-length self-titled album, which found the trio longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. Their sophomore effort, 2013’s Nation II Nation, also made it onto the Polaris shortlist, finishing in the final ten. In 2016, ATCR returned with their third full-length album, We Are the Halluci Nation, featuring guest appearances from rapper Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), indigenous Canadian drum group Black Bear, Australia’s OKA, and others. In November 2017 Ian decided to step away form ATCR to focus on mentorship & advocacy work. 

Ian is one of a group of emerging aboriginal thought leaders who are building what he calls a “civil rights movement” for their minority community. Ian promotes inclusivity, empathy and acceptance amongst all races and genders in the name of social justice. He believes that indigenous people need to define their identity on their own terms.

In 2013, Ian successfully filed a human rights complaint against an amateur football club in Ottawa that had been using “Redskins” as its club name. The team is now called the Nepean Eagles. He advocates for the need to have a policy drafted on the use of indigenous identities and imagery in sports.

In addition to his music, Ian is equally engaged in his family project, raising three children with his strong partner and living on a ranch just outside of Ottawa where they grow their own food and some livestock.

“I am a role model for a lot of indigenous people and there are a lot of health issues with the food that we’re eating.” Aboriginals have high rates of obesity and diabetes, and “if I can try and change and show that just by dropping fried food, just get a salad or something like that, it makes a big difference.”