Arviat’s population might be young but it is also rich in Inuit culture and performing arts history.
“Arviat has a lot of talent,” remarked Looee Arreak, executive director of Qaggiavuut, which led an advanced training workshop for singers, songwriters and performers in the community in July. “They carry a very rich Inuit culture.”
About 10 people attended the training workshop, which was designed for people already on their way or involved in a performing arts career to take their work to the next level.
Arreak specializes in song writing, which she taught during the workshop, while other experts led sessions on throat singing, drum dancing and more.
“We wanted to focus on those who can be leaders, who can be teachers, and we wanted to encourage them to go further in what they’re already doing or what they already know,” said Arreak.
In the past, everyone used to have songs, said Arreak.
“When a major thing happened, they wrote a song; when they were really happy, they wrote a song; when they went through trauma, they wrote a song,” explained Arreak, adding that Inuit would then gather to sing and drum dance together.
During the workshop in Arviat, Arreak helped participants practise moulding their thoughts from ideas into poems and eventually songs in tune with the beat.
“It’s good to write about what’s in your heart,” said Arreak. “Our history is not written, it is all oral, and so they would memorize their song (in the past), but nowadays we use pen and paper.”
The training was part of an overall goal for Qaggiavuut to recognize the variety of cultures and different ways of performing arts across the territory – not to centralize everything in the Iqaluit ways, but to support each region’s own styles.
The workshop was a great start, said Arreak, who hopes to return Qaggiavuut to Arviat in the future to help artists further their careers.
“We had the right people and the people who have a heart for this cultural performance to be continued in a rich way,” she said. “It was a real success.”
Arreak also wants Nunavummiut to know that Qaggiavuut is available and eager to help any organizations or individuals who need supports for their work.