Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 24, 2001 - Issue 32



Aglukark Talks to Kids in Kivalliq


Northern News Services

Sometimes good news comes right out of the blue.

And so it was for Qitiqliq High principal Fred Durant in Arviat this past month when Canadian recording artist Susan Aglukark called to ask if it would be OK if she came and performed for students at the school.

Aglukark also visited schools in Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake and Whale Cove, as well as brief stops at the Repulse Bay and Coral Harbour airports.

The mini-tour was a chance for Aglukark to perform for the students, and also an opportunity to get them talking about issues affecting them.

"Susan told us she preferred the students in grades 7-12 because she would be talking about things more relevant to them than the younger kids," says Durant. "She told me she wanted to get the students talking about self-esteem, developing a positive work ethic and the importance of living right."

Durant says school staff were just as, if not more, excited than the students about Aglukark's visit, adding the old adage is true about how difficult it is to be a hero in your home community.

"That being said, there's not too many people from here we can hold up in front of our students andsay this is not the end of the world. There's a bigger world out there where anything is possible."

Aglukark told students if she can succeed and be happy outside of her own community, and still be just as happy when she returns, she's proof you don't have to be spoiled by fame and fortune.

"I'm still the same person who left here and that goes a long way in showing kids you don't have to change your personality to be successful," says Aglukark. "I wanted the kids to know there's a lot of people out there facing the same problems they are. "The first step is to get them to open up and talk and I think that's easier when they know they're talking to someone who can relate to what they're saying."

Aglukark says a lot of people came together to make her mini-tour possible.

"The Department of Health, the Kivalliq Inuit Association -- Bernadette Dean and Lorne Kusugak were just wonderful -- Calm Air was instrumental and the Department of Community Government and Transportation helped out, as well.

"A lot of people came through for this to happen on short notice."
Susan Aglukark

Born in Churchill, Manitoba, Susan moved around the Northwest Territories for the first twelve years of her life with her father, (a Pentecostal minister), mother and seven brothers and sisters. They eventually settled in Arviat, NWT., a community of 1,300 people on the northwest shore of Hudson Bay. After completing high school, she moved to Ottawa, where she was employed by the Canadian Department of Indian & Northern Affairs as a linguist. Susan later accepted the position of Executive Assistant to the political lobby group, Inuit Tapirisat (Brotherhood) Of Canada. Shortly after taking this position, her musical career began to take off.

The three short years since Susan Aglukark gave her first live performance at a festival in her home town have been remarkable ones. First CBC radio included her in a compilation of Eastern Arctic performers and writers, which due to extraordinary demand, Susan independently released as "Dreams For You". The video "Searching" followed, which garnered a MuchMusic award for outstanding cinematography.

In 1992 Susan released her first independent recording, Arctic Rose, which met with tremendous critical and commercial acclaim in the North. In 1993 Susan signed a worldwide recording contract with EMI Music Canada. EMI released Susan's independent Christmas album in December 1993, featuring the single "Little Toy Trains" and followed with a re-released version of Arctic Rose in April 1994. The first single and video "Song Of The Land", as well as the second successful single "Still Running" were specially re-recorded for the EMI release.

Susan is no stranger to Canadian television and radio audiences, having appeared on The Journal, MuchMusic, Musique Plus, and The Rita MacNeil Show, as well as several appearances on CBC Radio's highly rated "Morningside" and "Swinging On A Star".

Numerous interviews and profile pieces have appeared in such prestigious publications as Saturday Night Magazine, and The New York Times. In 1993, Maclean's Magazine named Susan on of "Canada's 100 Leaders To Watch For", as well, Up Here Magazine named her "Northerner Of The Year". Susan has performed twice for HRH Queen Elizabeth at 1992's Canada 125 celebrations, and at 1994's Commonwealth Games Gala, as well as for Canadian Prime Ministers, Mulroney and Cretien. Susan was also honoured with the first ever Aboriginal Achievement Award in the Arts & Entertainment field in 1994. Susan received her first music industry award in September 1994, as the Canadian Country Music Association awarded her the Vista Rising Star Award.

Her first newly recorded CD for EMI, 'This Child', was released in Canada in January 1995 and would eventually find its way to Australia and New Zealand plus the Pacific Rim. It was produced by Chad Irschick (The Rankin Family), and features 11 songs, the majority co-written by Susan. The first single and video was "O Siem", the title being an Indian exclamation of joy at seeing friends and family.

"Hina Na Ho (Celebration)" is a tale of surviving a winter, written by John Landry (an aboriginal songwriter from the Western Arctic), Susan and Chad Irschick.

The title track, "This Child", deals with the tragedy of suicide. It was written to accompany the film broadcast of "Trial At Fortitude Bay", which aired in Canada on CBC-TV in December 1994. "Trial At Fortitude Bay" tells the powerful story of the southern white legal system attempting to impose their laws and justice on a Northern Inuit community.

Aglukark maintained a busy performance and speaking schedule including the Melbourne Music Festival, the WOMAD Festival and at the Davvi Suuva Music Festival in Sweden. In addition to her musical activities, Susan is the official Spokesperson for the North West Territories - Economic Development & Tourism/Arts & Crafts, as well as the National Spokesperson for the Aboriginal Division Of The National Alcohol And Drug Prevention Programme (RCMP 1994-1995). She also represented Canadian Inuit at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.

She received a Juno in 1995 as "New Solo Artist" and Arctic Rose received a 1995 Juno as "Music of Aboriginal Canada Recording,"

Susan Aglukark and husband Jacques, had their first child, Cameron Joseph Allyaq, October 16, 1996.

She appeared with Ben Heppner on Pamela Wallin Live in 1996. In February 1997 she appeared on the nationally televised Aboriginal Achievement Awards and was part of the official opening of the World Special Olympics.

Susan Aglukark Official Website




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