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.
« Arts is at the center of my life. Personally I know that artistic expression is extremely important, When you are an artist you are naturally inclined to creating. You are sometimes just driven by that. So I understand what artists experience when they are feeling that way. I find it is extremely important to be able to create artistically so I help artists in my work with grants and projects and help them find opportunities in all fields of the arts: carving, painting, literature, film, music, multidisciplinary… everything.
As an artist, not all of us are great communicators of what we are feeling, and when we are feeling something we don't necessarily know what it is because we can't put it into words… So it takes us a while to figure that out and for me as a musician when I can not find the words to what I'm feeling I tell it through music. That's when the real me comes out.
I think it is extremely important to keep a connection to one’s past and be connected to our traditions, because the more certain you are about your own identity the more sure you are of yourself. And the more comfortable you are with yourself in your own skin, the better life you'll have. It has everything to do with our identities. Everything we do, the way we dress, the way we talk, everything.
When you do not know your identity, there's no peace, no direction, no roots, no ground, no foundation, nothing. You are all over the place. So you try so many different things, you can't stay connected to one thing, you are always searching, forever searching. So the more we know where we come from and proud of where we come from then we become stronger and more stable.
I have gone through a lot of changes for over five years, and I want to share not just with my people but anyone in general that life can get really difficult sometimes but it can get better… We just need to dedicate ourselves to having a better life and seeking help if we need help and not be ashamed of it. That's why I talk about it so much so that people can be encouraged to make changes if they want to seek proper help for problems that they have.
Everybody has so much potential. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses and everybody is different but the more stable we are the stronger we’ll be and we need more people to encourage a positive lifestyle, to encourage healthy living, expression and healing. That is the key. Nunavik has a lot of pain. It has its beauty, It has its positivity but sometimes it feels like the heavy is heavier. The balance is lopsided.
Inuit have gone through colonization, from varying degrees, and although that is from the past, it still has its effect today. For example the children that were in residential schools were hurt and broken, and some of them didn't have the tools to heal and became parents themselves. So there's a bit of that hurt that has been passed on.
But we have to take ownership of our lives today. That is really what is the key, to take charge of your own life. If you know that you need to change then go for it, come out being brave. Be brave and don't spend years of your whole life thinking that you can't. Don't miss out on life, don't miss out on opportunities, on doing good things with one’s life. We all have potential and purpose, we all have reasons to be here, so it makes me sad that people can live their whole life suffering. Because I suffered for a long time and I didn't know there was any other way until I really said “okay I have to give this a shot, I want to see what it feels like”. You need courage, but everybody has that, it’s just that often they don't know it. So that is why I talk about it. Somebody needs to spark that.. »