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Local instructors shine in leading roles at 26th Iqaluit Music Camp

Society hopes to bring new music education resources to other parts of Nunavut
Iqaluit Music Society students learn about the fiddle during a morning workshop at Nakasuk School. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

The Iqaluit Music Society hosted its 26th annual summer music camp from Aug. 16-20, bringing together young aspiring musicians and teaching them traditional Inuit and Western music with drum dance, throat singing, fiddle, accordion and ukulele workshops.

The society, which was the $1-million winner of this year’s Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP), was able to host the latest edition of the camp at Iqaluit’s schools rather than the outdoor setting of 2020 — a move caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 80 participants this year compared to 35 last year, said Darlene Nuqingaq, volunteer president of the Iqaluit Music Society.

Community support was instrumental this year, she said.

“We just have tremendous support from the community, (Department of) Culture and Heritage and family organizations in town,” said Nuqingaq.

Normally, she and fellow music society instructor Sam Tagalik would both be coordinating, however, this year they are depending more on local instructors, such as Molly Ell, who taught traditional Inuit drum dancing.

Nuqingaq said it was nice to see local instructors step up to the plate, and some of them were familiar faces.

“Our staff here today, many of them were campers, then they’ve become junior instructors, then local instructors,” she said.

The Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation gave the Iqaluit Music Society a grant to film this year’s music camp to create educational videos for various schools in other communities.

With the $1 million awarded by the AIP coming in earlier this year, the music society envisions a bright future.

“It feels amazing,” said Nuqingaq, “right now we’re in a good financial situation.”

More money is coming in from others because of the publicity from the AIP win, she added. While she said she couldn’t discuss specifics yet, it all points toward greener pastures.

“Funding begets more funding and people like to jump on the bandwagon,” she said.

Supporting music education in Iqaluit and Nunavut as a whole is important, she said, as it reflects itself positively in other areas of education.

“Music does carry over in other academic (pursuits) and areas of their life, it teaches them how to be leaders, how to hold yourself differently… leadership development, academic enhancement,” said Nuqingaq.