Students in Resolute Bay expressed their love for their community and the land through song this month, while in Iqaluit a flag recognizing transgender people flew at city hall for a day as a supportive message. The big message? February is Inuktitut Language Month, and QIA welcomes participation in its celebratory activities.
Students create song all about Resolute
Eleven students at Qarmartalik School in Resolute Bay had the opportunity in January to make music with Toronto- and Regina-based folk and roots singer-songwriter Jeffery Straker.
The three-day songwriting workshop came thanks to Co-op manager Gloria Burbidge, who approached the musician. Straker, who says he spends time in one or two schools each year, welcomed the opportunity – which First Air and Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. made possible.
“My hope in doing this is that I get to introduce an art form to young creative minds that they’ve likely not tried out before. At the same time I’m sharing a new way for them to express what it is that they want to express,” said Straker.
“Our goal was to write a song about Resolute Bay. There aren’t many of those tunes out there. I took the students through a process I’ve developed, and over two days they came up with a really great song called Our Hearts Will Stay. It paints a vivid picture of the people, place and landscape.”
Straker said the students’ performance at a community feast brought tears to everyone’s eyes.
“It was really moving. It was particularly great to see the elders positive reactions.”
The musician was particularly impressed by the students’ dedication.
“I knew something special was going on when they kept wanting to make it better; really wanting it to be as good as it could be. They were really owning the creative process,” he said.
“For me some of the best parts of doing this were the conversations we had amongst our group about some of the lines. For example there is one line, ‘We love this place… There’s no way you can take it from me.’ This led to a great conversation about how Resolute came to be and what the future looks like. It was really incredible to hear them discuss this. I loved my time working with them and will never forget it.”
Watch a snip of the students rehearsing their song.
Our Hearts Will Stay
This is our home, where our hearts will stay
We are, we are, we are, Resolute Bay
Resolute Bay is a cold Arctic land
Winter’s long summer’s just around the bend
Colours appearing in the middle of the day
Blue, pink and orange, fade in the haze
Looking for places to play hide and seek
In spring time when qupanuaks are flying free
This is a land that we love and we know, wait for
Winter’s return, to a full moon glow
This is our ho——-me
Where our hearts, will, stay
We are, we are, we are
Down at the river without a care
In this world under the midnight sun
The dark cold winter moonlight shines
We hear the echo of the beating drum
I stand by the bay watching summer sun
Hunters zoom by on their boats
We wait for a fresh catch of maktaaq
Hearing the sound of the narwhal blow
We love this place, its beautiful landscape
There’s no way you can take it from me
The ring road of our home is heart-shaped
A town where it reaches minus 50 degrees
Catching a seal it’s time for a feast
The great joy of the gathering
All together community
Paradise with the wind whistling
Iqaluit’s new habit – flag raising
The capital saw a small flurry of flag-raising events at the end of January – two in one week.
The first took place Jan. 28, with the raising of the transgender flag.
Coun. Jason Rochon led the event, accompanied by transgender activist Kieran Drachenberg, Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern and Health Minister George Hickes, as well as a crowd of Iqalungmiut.
Redfern says raising a flag shows support for community members of diverse groups, and celebrates the city’s diversity.
Flag-raising may become more prominent in the future.
“City council has directed the city administration to develop a flag-raising policy that should actually come to council at the next meeting, so that there’s a clear process in which individuals and organizations who wish to have their flag raised at city hall know how to bring that request forward,” said Redfern.
“Iqaluit is a diverse community.”
Celebrate Inuktitut with QIA
February is Inuktitut Language Month, and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association wants people all over the region to celebrate.
“Language is vital to preserving our culture,” stated QIA president P.J. Akeeagok.
“Strengthening Inuktitut empowers our communities and reinforces our identity as Inuit.”
The regional Inuit organization is running an Inuktitut song/poem contest from Feb. 1 to 22, with the winners to be announced Feb. 28.
“Participants are asked to share an original short song or poem of 50 words or less with QIA on social media – Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – using the hashtag #QIAinuk. First place winner receives $400, second place receives $300, and third place $200,” according to the release.
QIA is also reminding Iqalungmiut that it is co-hosting a book signing with Inhabit Media Feb. 2 at the Frobisher Inn’s Koojesse Room.
Finally, every day in February, QIA will introduce a different Inuktitut book published by Inhabit Media, with the help of QIA funds, on its social media sites.
“In addition, we will also share free digital download links for each book,” stated QIA.