Making Cultural Connections

Before we were named, before we were labeled, even before we belonged” are the first words the audience will hear at the beginning of Susan Aglukark’s show, happening in the Homburg Theatre on January 27 @7:30 p.m. Those words are meant to set the tone for her performance.

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“If there is anything that you want to know about Inuit people, coming to my show is a good place to start,” says Aglukark. “I’m sharing what I have learnt so far.”

Aglukark is one of Canada’s most unique Indigenous artists. Her latest album tells the story of her Inuit ancestors’ journey, a journey that she couldn’t describe until 10 years ago. Like many other Indigenous people, she struggled to feel a connection to her ancestors.

“I finally acknowledged that I had lived most of my life in a constant state of fear that I was lesser than everybody else,” describes Aglukark. “I use the Inuktitut word Ilira to describe it”.

There is no English definition for the word, but Aglukark defines it as emotional discombobulation. She overcame her fears by realizing that she had the power to set the tone when speaking about her ancestors. She calls it making cultural connections.

Aglukark plans to give the audience a full sensory experience during her show through her songs and projected images on stage, to help tell the story of her Inuit ancestors, a story that she believes started long before her people were called Inuit. She acknowledges that her tour is happening during an exciting time for Indigenous artists now that the Canadian government has begun the process of reconciliation with Indigenous people.

“I believe it has allowed us to move into the healing stage as Indigenous people,” explains Aglukark. “Part of that healing is reconnecting to our culture and part of my responsibility as an artist is to practice connecting Inuit people to the past.”

Aglukark appreciates cultural organizations like the Centre that help to set a positive tone before shows, by stating at the beginning of each performance that the audience is standing on traditional Mi’kmaq land.

“Acknowledging Indigenous people on their lands is a powerful symbol of intentions,” says Aglukark. “It sets the tone of we’re here with a good heart and it helps to remove the tension in the room. As an Inuit artist I can’t do the work I do when we’re always in opposition.”

For tickets please visit: http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/show/370-Susan-Aglukark

This tour is part of the Atlantic Presenters Association (APA) and RADARTS’ Canada 150 Performance Series. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada. Special thanks are extended to Sobeys, the title sponsor for LIVE @ the Centre! Media sponsors are The Guardian, Ocean 100, and Hot 105.5.

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Aglukark Making One Stop on PEI

‘Winter’s Dream’ Concert tells the story of how her ancestors’ journey has shaped and defined contemporary Inuit

CHARLOTTETOWN – Susan Aglukark is sharing the journey of her Inuit ancestors through her concert “Winters Dream,” which is about to tour Atlantic Canada.

The second stop on that tour is at the Confederation Centre of the Arts
in Charlottetown on Jan. 27.

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The Juno award-winning Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter’s “Winters Dream” concert tells the story of how her ancestors’ journey has shaped and defined contemporary Inuit as they forge a place in the ever-changing Inuit Nunangat/Land of the Inuit.

The 13-date tour visits Atlantic Canada from Jan. 26 to Feb. 15. All shows feature Aglukark and her four-piece band, including drums, bass, piano/keyboards and guitar.

During a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Aglukark’s journey has led her to reflect on who she is, where she came from and the importance of discovery of history, culture and self.

She is the first Inuk artist to win a Juno and a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement, she is an officer of the Order of Canada, and holds several honourary doctorate degrees, but Aglukark also acknowledges the path has not been easy.

“Here I was, living a life I never imagined, but I was struggling to understand who I was,” she said. “There was no opportunity growing up to learn about who we were, the Inuit, from our own perspective.

“In essence, we were institutionalized by being told who we were, how we would live and when you are told a story for so long, you learn to believe it.”

During the past 25 years of reflection and songwriting, Aglukark said she kept coming back to one area of profound knowing – the Inuit are an extraordinary people deeply grounded in a culture forged by their Ancestors, their journey is what shaped them.

“Their life experience is the foundation on which our precepts of determination, adaptability and love for life are built, they began the journey to our present-day Nunavut,” added Aglukark.

“Winters Dream,” also the name of her upcoming 10th album, is set for release in April and one she describes as bringing her story full circle – from being caught between two worlds – an indigenous one and a western one – to a place where she is comfortable in her own skin and able to “just be me.”

Tickets for all shows are on sale now. For show and ticket details, visit: susanaglukark.com/tour.

 

Originally posted on The Journal Pioneer.