AROUND NUNAVUT: A love song for Resolute, transgender flag flies, and Inuktitut month celebrations

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Students in Resolute Bay expressed their love for their community and the land through song this month, while in Iqaluit a flag recognizing transgender people flew at city hall for a day as a supportive message. The big message? February is Inuktitut Language Month, and QIA welcomes participation in its celebratory activities.

Students at Qarmartalik School in Resolute Bay wrote a song all about their home with the help of singer-songwriter Jeffery Straker, seen here at the piano. The students are,– in no particular order, Aasta Idlout, Suupi Idlout, Sky Kalluk, Isaiah Brown, Jushua Atagootak, Jerome Idlout, Rhoda Idlout, Tatiana Mcdonald, Jenny Salluviniq and Enookie Idlout. Missing from the photo is Angel Koonoo. The students performed their song at a community feast. photo courtesy Jeffery Straker

Students create song all about Resolute

Qausuittuq/Resolute Bay

Eleven students at Qarmartalik School in Resolute Bay had the opportunity in January to make music with Toronto- and Regina-based folk and roots singer-songwriter Jeffery Straker.

The three-day songwriting workshop came thanks to Co-op manager Gloria Burbidge, who approached the musician. Straker, who says he spends time in one or two schools each year, welcomed the opportunity – which First Air and Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. made possible.

“My hope in doing this is that I get to introduce an art form to young creative minds that they’ve likely not tried out before. At the same time I’m sharing a new way for them to express what it is that they want to express,” said Straker.

“Our goal was to write a song about Resolute Bay. There aren’t many of those tunes out there. I took the students through a process I’ve developed, and over two days they came up with a really great song called Our Hearts Will Stay. It paints a vivid picture of the people, place and landscape.”

Straker said the students’ performance at a community feast brought tears to everyone’s eyes.

“It was really moving. It was particularly great to see the elders positive reactions.”

The musician was particularly impressed by the students’ dedication.

“I knew something special was going on when they kept wanting to make it better; really wanting it to be as good as it could be. They were really owning the creative process,” he said.

“For me some of the best parts of doing this were the conversations we had amongst our group about some of the lines. For example there is one line, ‘We love this place… There’s no way you can take it from me.’  This led to a great conversation about how Resolute came to be and what the future looks like. It was really incredible to hear them discuss this. I loved my time working with them and will never forget it.”

Watch a snip of the students rehearsing their song.

Our Hearts Will Stay

Introduction:

This is our home, where our hearts will stay

We are, we are, we are, Resolute Bay

Verse one:

Resolute Bay is a cold Arctic land

Winter’s long summer’s just around the bend

Colours appearing in the middle of the day

Blue, pink and orange, fade in the haze

Looking for places to play hide and seek

In spring time when qupanuaks are flying free

This is a land that we love and we know, wait for

Winter’s return, to a full moon glow

Chorus:

This is our ho——-me

Where our hearts, will, stay

We are, we are, we are

Resolute Bay

Verse two:

Down at the river without a care

In this world under the midnight sun

The dark cold winter moonlight shines

We hear the echo of the beating drum

I stand by the bay watching summer sun

Hunters zoom by on their boats

We wait for a fresh catch of maktaaq

Hearing the sound of the narwhal blow

Verse three:

We love this place, its beautiful landscape

There’s no way you can take it from me

The ring road of our home is heart-shaped

A town where it reaches minus 50 degrees

Catching a seal it’s time for a feast

The great joy of the gathering

All together community

Paradise with the wind whistling

 

Iqaluit’s new habit – flag raising

Iqaluit

The capital saw a small flurry of flag-raising events at the end of January – two in one week.

The first took place Jan. 28, with the raising of the transgender flag.

Coun. Jason Rochon led the event, accompanied by transgender activist Kieran Drachenberg, Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern and Health Minister George Hickes, as well as a crowd of Iqalungmiut.

Redfern says raising a flag shows support for community members of diverse groups, and celebrates the city’s diversity.

Flag-raising may become more prominent in the future.

“City council has directed the city administration to develop a flag-raising policy that should actually come to council at the next meeting, so that there’s a clear process in which individuals and organizations who wish to have their flag raised at city hall know how to bring that request forward,” said Redfern.

“Iqaluit is a diverse community.”

photo courtesy City of Iqaluit
City of Iqaluit Coun. Jason Rochon, centre, raised the transgender flag Jan. 28, accompanied by transgender activist Kieran Drachenberg, left, Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern and Health Minister George Hickes, as well as a crowd of Iqalungmiut.

 

 

Celebrate Inuktitut with QIA

Qikiqtaaluk

February is Inuktitut Language Month, and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association wants people all over the region to celebrate.

“Language is vital to preserving our culture,” stated QIA president P.J. Akeeagok.

“Strengthening Inuktitut empowers our communities and reinforces our identity as Inuit.”

The regional Inuit organization is running an Inuktitut song/poem contest from Feb. 1 to 22, with the winners to be announced Feb. 28.

“Participants are asked to share an original short song or poem of 50 words or less with QIA on social media – Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – using the hashtag #QIAinuk. First place winner receives $400, second place receives $300, and third place $200,” according to the release.

QIA is also reminding Iqalungmiut that it is co-hosting a book signing with Inhabit Media Feb. 2 at the Frobisher Inn’s  Koojesse Room.

Finally, every day in February, QIA will introduce a different Inuktitut book published by Inhabit Media, with the help of QIA funds, on its social media sites.

“In addition, we will also share free digital download links for each book,” stated QIA.

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Michele LeTourneau
Michele LeTourneau first arrived at NNSL's headquarters in Yellowknife in1998, with a BA honours in Theatre. For four years she documented the arts across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Following a very short stint as a communications officer with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Michele spent a decade at a community-based environmental monitoring board in the mining industry, where she worked with Inuit, Chipewyan, Tlicho, Yellowknives Dene and Metis elders to help develop traditional knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit contributions for monitoring and management plans. She rejoined NNSL and moved to Iqaluit in May 2014 to write for Nunavut News. Michele has received a dozen awards for her work with NNSL.