The culture and traditions of the Inuit people have been kept alive through song and dance for generations. Inuit of the circumpolar regions have at least one thing in common with many Indigenous peoples around Canada, which is the use of drum and dance.
The drum is like a heartbeat and through that comes the singing of songs that reflect the way the Inuit lived their lives.
The traditional pihiqs (songs) are stories of hunting, gathering, the hardships they endured, celebrating the return of the sun and songs of seasonal changes. These songs are passed down from generation to generation and continues to be passed down this day.
Chad Elgok Keadjuk of Kugluktuk was 20 years old when he started getting serious about learning songs and dances.
“In the year 2010, I was part of a film crew that captured a week’s worth of videos and photos of a drum dance gathering that happened in Kugluktuk.
“The communities that participated were Inuvik, Ulukhaktok and Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), since then I’ve loved drum dancing.”
He is named after the late Ben Elgok, who also sang and danced therefore through his name Elgok Keadjuk says he is destined to dance.
“My grandmother late Bessie Hayokhok also played a big role in my drum dancing, she was and still is my inspiration to this day,” said Elgok Keadjuk.
“Drum dancing makes me feel connected to my culture and heritage which makes me very proud and content. I make it a priority to learn the stories behind every song I learn.”
Drumming has also had an unintended effect on Elgok Keadjuk, improving his language skills.
“I have always been one to understand Inuinnaqtun, but was never able to speak it myself until I started drum dancing I have definitely become fluent in speaking it,” said Elgok Keadjuk.
He continues to drum and dance across Canada, which he says leads to a well balanced lifestyle and contributing to his love of his people’s culture.
“So far I have performed in Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), Ulukhaktok, Iqaluit, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. I love participated in drumming workshops and love passing on my skills and would love to participate in more when opportunities arise,” said Elgok Keadjuk.