The Iqaluit Centennial Library restarted its throat-singing lessons for kids after a long hiatus due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Arts and crafts, French/Inuktitut story time, as well as Inuit cultural activities such as throat-singing and drum-making are all a part of regular Saturday afternoon children’s programs at the library.
“We were closed for much of Covid and we weren’t allowed to have programming due to the restrictions,” said Catherine Hoyt, library volunteer of over 15 years and co-ordinator for children’s activities at the Iqaluit Centennial Library.
Hoyt was happy to mark a return to normal activities after such a long delay. She adds there have been volunteers and parents who have been coming to the library for over 10 years, including those who grew up volunteering for Saturday children’s programs.
Elizabeth Ryan was one of those students. She started as a summer student teaching kids 10 years ago and has been doing that ever since, according to Hoyt. She continues to teach cultural lessons to kids, now including her own. She was one of the throat-singing teachers on Saturday.
“I didn’t learn (to throat-sing) until I was an adult,” said Ryan, who noted kids these days are much keener on learning how to throat-sing compared to when she was younger.
“It’s become so popular that almost everybody knows what throat-singing is, here anyways.”
“It’s really great that children are growing up with throat-singing.”
Ryan added that shows at different festivities like Toonik Tyme or Alianait Arts Festival are good places to get kids exposed to throat-singing, however she adds kids also need an interactive element as well.
“This is really fun where they get to interact and try it and ask questions, to find out what their favourite songs are and I think that’s also really important,” said Ryan.
“I think it’s exciting for kids who are very observant,” added Sandi Vincent, who was teaching throat-singing at the library alongside Elizabeth.
“All of these throat-songs (come from) sounds in nature and the environment, so it’s a good chance for them to use their observation skills and to focus on their breathing and body, sounds and rhythm. A lot of the throat-songs come in stories so there’s a lot of different embedded cultural elements in throat-singing,” Vincent added.
Parents interested in taking part in Saturday activities can reach out to the library by simply stopping by or getting on the library emailing list for future activities.
For Hoyt, it has been very fulfilling to see families over the years continue bringing their kids to the library.
“We’ve got families who have been coming here for 10 years, their kids have grown up in the library,” said Hoyt.
“Now we have teenagers that are volunteering that came here for story time when they were preschoolers. It’s very rewarding.”