"This is so exciting," said Feist, winner of last year's award, before announcing Godspeed You! Black Emperor as the winner.
The band will use their prize money to support music education in Quebec prisons.
Toronto new-wave band Metric, Montreal jazz saxophonist Colin Stetson and Calgary twins Tegan and Sara were the only artists to make a return appearance on the 10-album Polaris short list.
The award was presented at a gala held in Toronto and hosted by singer Kathleen Edwards and rapper Shad, both two-time Polaris contenders.
The ten finalists for 2013 were:
- The Montreal-based, orchestral-ambient band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, for their album, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
- Toronto hip hop artist Zaki Ibrahim's Every Opposite.
- Toronto super-group Metric made the shortlist with the album Synthetica.
- Toronto alt-rockers, METZ, for their self-titled album.
- Purity Ring, with members hailing from Edmonton and Halifax, for their album, Shrines.
- Avante-garde saxophone soloist Colin Stetson, based in Montreal, for New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light.
- Tegan and Sara's seventh studio release, Heartthrob.
- Ottawa-based electronic DJ crew A Tribe Called Red's Nation II Nation.
- The Hamilton, Ont. folk duo Whitehorse for The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss.
- Montreal-based alt-pop group Young Galaxy's Ultramarine.
The Polaris prize is awarded by a jury of music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers from across Canada and was established to celebrate creativity and diversity in Canadian music — without regard to musical genre or sales history. Polaris Prizes have previously been awarded to Feist, Arcade Fire, Karkwa, Patrick Watson, Caribou and Final Fantasy.
The $30,000 Polaris Music Prize is awarded to the artist who produced Canada's top album of the year.