Drum dancing has been a part of Inuit culture for decades. The songs (Pihit) have been passed down through generations and are the stories of hunting trips, hardships and celebration. Pamela Inuktalik and Nancy Kadlun, residents of Kugluktuk use this tool to keep themselves grounded and closer to their Elders.

Andrew Atatahak arrives from work to showcase his talent in Kugluktuk.
Rita Pigalak/NNSL photos

Nancy Kadlun, originally from Bathurst Inlet, moved to Kugluktuk over twenty years ago where she then found employment with the Elders Centre where the Brighter Futures Program took place.

“I always wanted to learn to drum and dance as a young girl but was always too shy, they danced at the Elder’s Centre, so with help from (my late father) Inuktalik, Martha Ayaligak and Niptanatiak I was able to learn.” said Nancy.

Pamela Inuktalik, originally from Uluhaktok, has made her home in Kugluktuk for many years now. Pamela began her drumming and dancing five years ago. It was important to her to learn the songs of our Elders, that is when she approached Nancy to teach her the songs and drumming of our people. “I miss my late father Inuktalik, I needed to learn these songs to keep me closer to him.” said Pamela.

The two together have drummed and danced since, helping to teach those who want to learn the traditions of our people. They recently took part instructing a Learn to Dance Session that was put on by the Parks Department in Kugluktuk.

Jasmine Hikhaitok with baby in back picks up the drum without hesitation.
Pamela Inuktalik proudly displays her Pihik (song) book that was passed down to her by her late father.
Nancy Kadlun of Kugluktuk wears her beautiful Copper Inuit style outfit.
Young and old sit and sing together, from left, Mamie Oniak, Pamela Inuktalik, Priscilla Niptanatiak and Nancy Kadlun.
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Rita Pigalak - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Rita Pigalak grew up in Kugluktuk and spent most of her adult life there. Inuinnaqtun is her mother tongue. She now lives in Yellowknife but remains intimately connected with her home community and the...