Canada's music heavyweights dominated the 2009 Juno Award nominations, with Nickelback garnering the most at five, followed by rocker Sam Roberts at four and Celine Dion and Hedley each picking up three.

But there were plenty of accolades for up and coming or independent acts, with nods for artists as diverse as The Stills, Crystal Castles, Plants and Animals and former Canadian Idol competitor Tara Oram.

The nominations were announced at a live press conference in Toronto on Tuesday with Russell Peters as emcee. The internationally acclaimed comedian will return as host of the 2009 awards show, taking place March 29th in Vancouver.

The 2008 awards were one of the most watched in the show's history at more than 4 million viewers. Peters picked up a Gemini Award for his hosting duties.

"Twenty years in this business and that's the only time I've won a Gemini - for hosting an awards show, not for the things I've done," joked Peters.

Joining in the announcements were Montreal indie rockers The Stills, songstress Sarah Slean and punk rockers Saint Alvia, all who received at least one Juno nomination.

Nickelback picked up nods for Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Group of the Year, Producer of the Year, as well as Fan Choice, while Roberts, a three-time Juno winner, was nominated for Artist of the Year, Rock Album of the Year and two nominations for Video of the Year.

Dion picked up nominations for the Fan Choice award, Single of the Year and Music DVD. Hedley also received a nod for Fan Choice, as well as Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.

Along with 2009 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award recipient Sarah McLachlan, other Juno show performers announced so far will include Nickelback, City and Colour, who picked up nominations for Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, and Simple Plan, who were nominated for Album of the Year and Group of the Year.

Many of the groups who received their first nomination have already been on the scene for a number of years, including The Stills, who received a nomination for New Group of the Year despite forming back in 2000 and a nod for Alternative Album of the Year, even though "Oceans Will Rise" is the group's third major label album release.

But they'll be the last ones to balk at the recognition.

"It's kind of weird but I understand it in a certain sense that we haven't really been known on a larger level I guess or recognized by the industry," said lead vocalist Tim Fletcher.

"We've had a single on the radio and I think that's really what it is and we're on a Canadian record label now," added vocalist/guitarist Dave Hamelin.

The guys had an inkling they may get nominated after being asked to help announce the nominees.

"We kind of thought to ourselves, 'Are they going to invite us down here to present just to present and then kick us out the door after?'" said Fletcher.

That wouldn't have been much fun, especially since the two drove all the way from Montreal. "Our backs are killing us," Fletcher said. "The seats are low in the Acura."

The band is quickly gaining international acclaim, after touring with American rock sensation Kings of Leon, and say time will tell what being nominated for two Junos will mean.

"We don't know about that. We've never had that on our radar ... from what I can gather it's a great thing," said Fletcher.

Songstress Sarah Slean picked up a nomination for Adult Alternative Album of the Year for her latest CD "The Baroness."

"When I finished recording the album I thought, 'Who knows, it could go either way and I'm so happy that it's been welcomed by this community."

She released her first independent album "Universe" in 1999 and says the last 10 years have been an incredible growing experience.

"I've learned so much. The 20 - 30 (age) window is where you do all the learning and I feel like I've learned that suffering is a teacher, suffering is your greatest teacher. I feel like I've actually started to discover who I am," said Slean.

She was first nominated for a Juno in 2003 and again in 2005 and knows what kind of opportunities it can create.

"It just convinces people to give you a chance and I'm so grateful, I really am," said Slean.

Burlington, Ontario's Saint Alvia agree that a Juno nod increases your exposure. The group was nominated for Rock Album of the Year in 2008 and have received much attention, being fortunate to take part in a Canadian showcase in Japan in November alongside the likes of Bedouin Soundclash.

Picking up another nomination this year for Video of the Year will only add to that buzz.

"It helps us in terms of making our parents believe that we're doing something with our lives," joked Greg Taylor.

"Just coming from where we're from, we don't know how to take it properly without making a joke," interjected Ben Rispin. "But it is honest to God, very, very nice."

They believe the nominations this year reflect some of Canada's best, including the Cancer Bats.

The hardcore punk band from Toronto received a nod for New Group of the Year. Lead singer Liam Cormier was still reeling from the shock of it all.

"It's really cool to get nominated but also the other bands we're nominated along with are all rad so for us to be alongside of all those bands is also really flattering," said Cormier.

The group has been together for about four years and says the nomination won't change them so much but it will help them with recognition.

"It's more just being recognized by maybe a different group of people or a different side of the music industry in Canada," said Cormier.

Brampton's Moneen, who have been a band for nine years, picked up their first nomination for their Music DVD entitled "It All Started With a Red Stripe."

They're honoured to be recognized after all these years but know they have tough competition - they're up against Celine Dion's DVD "Live In Las Vegas - a New Day."

"My mom would be disappointed (if we won). She'd be like, 'Celine Dion didn't win?'" said Steve Nunnaro with a laugh.

"It would be the biggest upset," added Eric Hughes.

"I was a little disappointed at the Grammys when Celine Dion won for best song over Elliott Smith so now it's our turn," said Chris Hughes.

Previous Juno nominee Elizabeth Shepherd was nominated again for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for "Do Right!"

She says her album has done really well abroad - in Europe and Japan - and it's nice to receive the recognition at home. She says it's often the case that artists have to leave and gain some international success before being noticed in their home country.

"You have to go elsewhere and the people see that, 'Oh this must be cool so we're now ready to accept it,'" said Shepherd.

Shepherd says even know the major categories are often dominated by acts with the most sales, the Junos do recognize indie and lesser known acts.

"In the end it's money that talks but there's also an awareness of the word on the street, who's up and coming, which is good."

Melanie Berry, president of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), says the nominations reflect the depth and breadth of Canadian talent.

"Only seven out of 39 categories have anything to do with sales so the nominations are always loads of surprises ... a (Juno) nomination is a sign of success, it's an opportunity for more exposure. I think it's something to celebrate."