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Iqaluit musician teaches ukulele to youth in three Nunavut communities

Colleen Aasiva Nakashuk, better known as the Iqaluit-based singer and songwriter Aasiva, is on a mission to teach ukulele to young Nunavummiut.

With the support of Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Hitmakerz, the 22 year old artist is presently visiting three communities on Baffin Island.

Uke'Cray participants at the Clyde River workshop. From left to right, top to bottom: Tyra Joanas, Alicia Arreak, Charlotte Palluq, Colleen Aasiva Nakashuk, Arlene Kautuq, Tanill Sivugat, Julianne Joanas, Josephine Palluq, Gloria Tigullaraq, and Candace Palluq. photo courtesy of Colleen Aasiva Nakashuk

Her first two day ukulele workshop has already taken place with students in Clyde River. She now has plans to travel to Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay.

Music has been an important aspect of Nakashuk life since the age of 11. This is when she was introduced to her very first musical instrument-the fiddle.

Growing up in Pangnirtung, Nakashuk was "really" inspired by the music workshops she attended and her passionate teachers.

Both the music and the teachers had a "huge" impact on her life.

"Music has been a huge coping mechanism and very powerful tool for self expression."

Nakashuk says she grew up in a rough household. She experienced verbal, mental and emotional abuse as an adolescent.

She turned to music whenever she felt "very down" or was experiencing "very strong emotions."

"Every time I picked up an instrument, it felt like all the worry, all the stress, all the heaviness would just lift."

Over the years, Nakashuk has played several instruments, but fell in love with the ukulele about three years ago.

"I love the sounds of the ukulele. I love that it's very portable. And it's very easy to teach," expressed the musician.

From Nov. 15 to Nov. 16, Nakashuk held workshops called "Uke'cray" at Quluaq school in Clyde River. She taught and practiced ukulele chord sequences, strumming patterns and two songs with 15 participants, between the ages of 13 to 18.

In addition to the workshops, Nakashuk donated two ukuleles to help encourage students to practice the instrument.

Just like her teachers, she wants to give others the opportunity to try out music and potentially their change lives.

The Ilisaqsivik Society of Clyde River has also supported the artist's cause by donating two more ukuleles to the community.

Tyra Joanas and Gloria Tigullaraq, both participants in the Uke'cray workshops, had their names drawn for a ukulele. Nakashuk has plans to donate two ukuleles to each community she visits during her tour.

The Pond Inlet workshops will be held from Nov. 29 to Nov. 30. at Nasivvik School.

The last Uke'cray workshops will take place in Arctic Bay from Dec. 13 to Dec. 14 at Inuujaq school.

These weekend long workshops take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. on all days.