Multi-time Juno winner and influential artist Susan Aglukark returns to Newfoundland this February
Award winning singer and keynote speaker, Susan Aglukark, returns to Newfoundland and Labrador after many, many moons. The folk, world music artist will be on her Winters Dream tour, a concert where she will sing and share her wisdom about the journey of her ancestors. The tour will includes stops across the province including Labrador City, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, and St. John’s, to name a few.
Referring to herself as the accidental artist, Aglukark was born in Churchill, Manitoba and grew up in Arviat, Nunavut. Her father was a local preacher, so she spent a lot of time at youth group gatherings, where they sometimes participated in singing and music, but aside from that there was no real singing or songwriting until later in her life.
“We had a great childhood, we had a great life,” Aglukark shared with The Newfoundland Herald.
“(I was) preacher’s kid. So, Sunday services, Wednesday services, youth group gatherings, as preacher’s kid it was expected that we contribute and participate, so we sang, we played instruments, but aside from that my childhood was essentially a small town, isolated reserve type childhood. No creative outlet.”
When her big break finally did come, years down the road, Aglukark’s singing career took off quite quickly.
Living Between 2 Worlds
“…1990, 1991, when I first moved to Ottawa, I was working for the government as a translator when an opportunity came along to use some poetry, and I had written a poem. I had written it as part of my job description,” Aglukark explained.
“The theme of the poem was living between two worlds to get a Grade 12 diploma. So essentially, residential school. This turned into what was suppose to be a short little documentary piece on that experience, but became a music video that got onto Much Music. That’s essentially how my singing career got started.”
Aglukark has since gone on to release seven albums, won Vista Rising Star at the 1994 CCMA Awards, and three Juno awards including Best New Solo Artist in 1995, Best Music of Aboriginal Canada Recording for Arctic Rose in 1995, and Aboriginal Recording of the Year for Big Feeling in 2004.
“I don’t see it as talent, I see it as this incredible opportunity that’s turned into this incredible 25 years of discovering the artist, is really what it’s been. I’ve been very, very fortunate that I’ve had this life for 25 years.”
Aside from being a phenomenal musician, Susan Aglukark is also a fantastic role model and activist, founding the Arctic Rose Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to the youth in Canada’s northern communities, whom are faced with many obstacles and challenges related to population, education, suicide and health. In 2017, the foundation gained charitable status.
Art As Therapy
“It’s art based therapy,” Aglukark explained. “Essentially the model is where a program doesn’t exist that helps northern children and youth, the foundation will write it or develop it or work with the community to find a way to provide or make available to the young people a program, but it has to include art as therapy, whatever art they want to practice.”
The Arctic Rose Foundation is partnering with grassroots, community-driven volunteer programs such as local food banks, high school graduation groups and school committees in order to reach as many children and youth as possible.
“They’ll explore an art form they’ve always wanted to try so we will make that available to them, when and where we can,” Aglukark emphasizes. “So primarily it’s research turned into art, but it also involves the introduction of art as therapy, as an outlet.”
“I’ve been to Newfoundland before. I loved it, I really love the east coast. If my husband said okay, we’re done here let’s go to the east, I would go in a heartbeat.”
Aglukark expressed her excitement to get back to the east coast, after having not visited under career requirements for many years.
“It’s so much like that small town Nunavut mentality that I feel like that’s where my heart is most comfortable, in that environment. So, I’ve always loved the east coast, and Newfoundland for sure is a great place to be.”
In regards to the show, Aglukark shared with The Herald that the concert revolves partly around the theme of the work that she’s doing with the Arctic Rose Foundation, which is ancestry connection.
“The music inspired the program, the foundation program. What they’re going to hear is a small story from what I have collected in research and ancestry connections in the last 10 years from my family. The audience leaves with a bit of an understanding of who our ancestors, Inuit, were. Very different obviously from current, contemporary Inuit, but who were they? So they’re gonna get a little bit of that story in the concert.”
For more information on dates, visits at anaglukark.com/calendar. To donate to Arctic Rose Foundation please visit arcticrose.org
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