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Importance of family in the North is special

Balancing priorities not an easy task

Kivalliq News is based in Rankin Inlet, and with the high expense of travelling and hotels in the region, we try to take any opportunity we can to connect with non-Rankin people as they travel through the airport.

With childcare and family challenges at home, sometimes we have to cancel interviews and meetups, and we did that with Arviat rapper Jacob Okatsiak twice.

Each time, there was no complaint from Okatsiak, who said only that “family comes first” and he fully supported us.

The 23-year-old rising star has a child on the way of his own, and he revealed to Kivalliq News that he’s aware of the changes coming to his lifestyle — which now involves frequent travelling to shows and events — and that he planned to prioritize family over his career, at least in the near term with the coming birth of his child.

Also travelling with Okatsiak to an Atii Angutiit event in Taloyoak was Abraham Agaaqtooq, who explained how his early musical success took away time from his children, and that one day he decided he needed to focus on family and put his music career in storage.

That’s not easy to do, especially in an industry where it’s so important to strike while the iron is hot. If you pull out of one event, then two, then three, will you even get called for any in the future?

On one hand, nothing is more important than family and having that in-person bond with your child and partner. On the other, you need to be a provider for them, and sacrificing career opportunities directly impacts that.

It’s a balance that is impossible to fully achieve. The notion of ‘balance’ itself is more concept than reality: if you are prioritizing your work, naturally you are neglecting your family; and if you are prioritizing your family, naturally you are neglecting your work.

Parker Walbeck, a very successful filmmaker, explained in a video that the way he balances both is to be fully present in whatever he’s doing. That means if you’re with your child and partner, you’re not half paying attention and half on your phone; and if you’re working, you’re not taking breaks to scroll Instagram or Facebook.

As well, Walbeck talks about the concept of spinning plates, which means balancing a number of priorities without letting any of them fall, like the Chinese acrobats do. So, family, work, exercising and more may all be priorities, and the goal would be to keep each plate spinning enough that it doesn’t fall, understanding that you can’t dedicate all of your time to any one plate.

As we said before, it’s an impossible task to fully balance family and work. Spending time in one will always take from another. But it’s a testament to the family-first culture of the North that Okatsiak and others are so understanding when family needs interrupt plans. Not everyone is.