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Mosaic of three photos showing the close-up of a white conical shape with colored beads, detail of guitar strings, and the mouth of a woman singing.

Culture

From left to right: Julie Grenier's beadwork, detail of a guitar, Pauyungie Nutaraaluk during throat singing

Today’s Creators

The power of art resides in its capacity to transcend borders and touch people, in spite of cultural differences. Nunavik’s art offers a window onto the soul of its people and bears messages of their personal, collective and spiritual experience.

Here are three Nunavik creators who have chosen art as a means of telling us stories, of transporting us and ultimately drawing us into their world.

Portrait of Beatrice Deer, Inuit woman, looking at the camera.

Beatrice Deer

Beatrice Deer is a singer, songwriter and activist from Quaqtaq. In addition to performing regularly for music festivals and Inuit cultural events, she currently works for the Nunavik Arts Secretariat at the Avataq Cultural Institute in Montreal.

ON MUSIC
« I have gained a lot of experience in performing live. I have been with my band for six years and it has helped me a lot. I have learned so much from them, they have really helped me grow as a musician. I have been going through a lot of transitions over the years, becoming sober, incorporating a healthy lifestyle, and it obviously has an effect on my songwriting.

Previously I only wrote lyrics to songs that were written for me. I would have someone else write music, and if I like it I will listen to it over and over until it evokes something and write the lyrics. But recently I really dedicated myself to picking up the guitar so I have been writing the music and the lyrics for the first time and I am loving it. This is something I never thought I could do so I am really discovering that I can do it, it’s an amazing experience.

Here is «Painng», by Beatrice Deer and her group.


PAINNG (translated from inuktitut)

I think I made a mistake
I hurt you when I said I don't want this anymore
I can't even sleep anymore thinking "why?"
The way you look at me
The way you embrace

I think I made a mistake
I hurt you when I said I don't want this anymore
I can't even sleep anymore thinking "why?"
The way you look at me
The way you embrace me
The way you hold me
Can I just have you
I miss you

Let's be alone, just the two of us
Let me be the only one, touch me
The way you look at me
The way you embrace
The way you hold me
Can I just have you
I long for you, I miss you, I love you
Can I just have you
I miss you


Face of Pauyungie Nutaraaluk, Inuit woman, who looks at the camera smiling.

Pauyungie Nutaraaluk

Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Pauyungie Nutaraaluk grew up in Puvirnituq and Inukjuaq. She now spends her time between Nunavik and Montreal, where she is Theater Coordinator at the Avataq Cultural Institute.

ON KATAJJAQ
« Since I can remember I have been hearing throat singing as a child, I can still picture in my head the elders singing and teaching students. It showed how important it is to pass it along. I learned from elders from Puvirnituq. I was never taught directly, I just learned how to do it by myself, just by watching and hearing it. Then at age 12 I started throat singing with my friends.

When you throat sing, you have to have a lot of air in your diaphragm and you have to stand up in order to do it correctly, so you can catch your breath easily.

It’s always from the diaphragm that it starts. When you're singing the sound is coming from your throat but your air is always coming from the diaphragm.

Since I am shorter than everybody that I sing with, I have to be comfortable with my throat and when I am looking at the other singer with my eyes up it's okay because I try to match their throat. There is always a visual contact with the other singer. Sometimes you can try to make the other singer laugh first, or other times you are concentrating when she is going to switch [patterns], because I am a follower, not a leader. There is always a follower and a leader.

The same song can change from time to time, and between singers, because it depends on how they sing it. It's always been the leader that decides when there will be a change. If it is a competition song I wouldn't try to make her laugh, if I want the song to be longer I have to be careful with that.

In the case of competition songs, creation is involved. In the case of traditional songs, since they have a name, for example “goose song”, we won't mix it with other songs because geese don't mix. That is why it is a traditional song, and we want it to stay pure. But there is one song that can be mixed so we call a competition song, freestyle, and it is always prepared.

Here is a katajjaq throat singing demonstration, by singers Pauyungie Nutaraaluk (left) and Beatrice Deer (right).

Katajjaq demonstration
Singers: Pauyungie Nutaraaluk (left) et Beatrice Deer (right)
Download in WebM format (28,4 MB) | Download in MP4 format (39.8 MB)


Face of Julie Grenier, Inuit woman, who looks at the camera with a smile.

Julie Grenier

Born in Kuujjuaq, Julie Grenier is a beadwork artist and Director General of Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. whose mandate is to promote Inuit culture and image, by Inuit and for Inuit. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network).

ON BEADWORK

« I started beadwork when I was eight years old. I learned sewing from my mother and my grandmother, they always encouraged me. I’ve always had a special interest in beadwork. I borrowed doilies that my aunt had received from Greenland, and studied them to find out how they were made. So I learned by myself. I already knew needle and threading techniques. I did so purely out of interest and curiosity, with passion for beadwork. From there I started to create my own designs. I learned from different people several beadwork techniques. Over the years, a friend from Kuujjuaq taught me how to create traditional beadwork for amauti. For boots and slippers, I participated in workshops in Kuujjuaq, where we exchanged on various techniques.

Since then, I’ve been working with different mediums, seal, canvas, I tried to incorporate beadwork in almost everything I did, duffels on kamiks for example. I also do embroidery in which I integrate beadwork. In the baskets I incorporate ivory beads and miniature beads.

Originally, beadwork was done using bone pearls, then gradually new materials were integrated, which nevertheless represents an adaptation of tradition that has evolved over time, through exchanges, and the different materials that have been brought to Nunavik.

In the days of the shamans, there could have been symbolism of patterns and colors, but today, for what I know, beadwork is pretty much ornamental.

The needles used are stainless steel, I have a large collection according to the materials, and I bend the needle if necessary.

I also use antique pearls, from my personal collection, made in traditional ways and from various sources. Other pearls I use are for production purposes. I’ve also integrated traditional colors that the ancestors used when they beaded caribou skin amauti. »

Three examples of the work of Julie Grenier's beadwork, showing ornamented mittens and edged with white fur, a doily made of triangular geometric patterns, and a traditional boot of sealskin, ornamented with geometric and flower motifs.

Beadwork by Julie Grenier. From left to right : Mittens, doily, traditional boots

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