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The Impact Of Nunavut Landscapes On Susan Aglukark’s Music

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Introduction

Canadian music is profoundly influenced by Canadian landscape. It is influenced by the region’s climate, the artist’s culture and upbringing, and their connection with their land. The artist’s mood, experiences, and their passions are all going to be affected by the climate of their landscape. The Inuit culture and the upbringing of my artist adds the deeper meaning behind her song, which also has an influence on her strong relationship with her land. I chose Nunavut as my landscape to research because it is like a mystery land with empty space and a lot of snow that no one really knows about or talks about. I was truly eager to explore this region and the artists that originate from it. I chose Susan Aglukark as my artist from Nunavut because her music is a timeless kind of pop music with lyrics that deal with subject matter of real depth and humanity and is embraced in Canada and internationally. In my inquiry paper, I will go more in depth in terms of Nunavut’s geographical features, its well-established clichés, as well as what is happening there today, and beyond the clichés. I will also go in detail in terms of how Aglukark’s music is influenced by the landscape of Nunavut, which will be done by analyzing one of her songs and how it connects to her landscape. MethodologyI researched Susan Aglukark and her landscape through a number of resources, including websites, encyclopedia, videos, music and interviews. While analyzing the song, I kept landscape in my mind and interpreted how the lyrics speak for themselves in terms of landscape. The song analysis helped me tie the song back to the landscape of Nunavut, and come to a conclusion that “Song of the land” is hugely influenced by the physical and human features of Nunavut.

Exploring Canada’s Arctic

“Isn’t Nunavut all ice and snow?” I am sure we all have said this at one point in our lives, and I am guilty of saying this too. Some of the clichés I have heard about Nunavut are that Nunavut is all ice, snow and empty space. The polar bears up there in the north walk through towns and everyone there knows how to build an igloo. There are also northern lights up there and it is Santa’s vacation home. Nunavut is also referred to as the “Yellow Submarine Airport”, because of the territory’s largest airport building which is bright yellow next to the town of Iqaluit (Maclean’s). Nonetheless, there is a yoga studio, kick-boxing, and hip-hop lessons in Nunavut. There is also an active curling club in the winter and an indoor skate park in the summer, as well as, taekwondo, ultimate Frisbee, gymnastics, and much more. If art is more of your thing, then they have regular scheduled concerts featuring international and Canadian artists. In fact, people do wear heels in Nunavut. This was very surprising for me, since I thought people wouldn’t really get a chance to wear heels because of all the ice and snow there. But, people can be fashionable up there in the north. There are also many formal events, from balls to banquets to galas to concerts that give you many opportunities to dress up (Anubha, Momin).

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Most Canadians think that Nunavut is only home to Aboriginal Canadians who are still very much involved in their culture, and they are rugged and outdoorsy folks, who live in poverty. However, the city of Iqaluit is diverse in many ways. There are people of all cultures and ethnicities, all layered with the Indigenous culture of this territory. Iqaluit is even home to the first mosque of Nunavut. The Iqaluit Pride Society is also growing. The metropolitan hub of the territory, the deluge of “southerners” affects the local culture and way of life. The annual Iqaluit arts festival featured a Bollywood workshop one year. They even have a shawarma place called Yummy Shawarma and it is in fact very yummy (ibid). Nunavut is an enormous territory. It includes a full fifth of the Canadian landmass and comprises of two sections: the most part dreadful mainland, Barren Grounds, and Arctic Archipelago, achieving the distance towards the North Pole. Nunavut’s biggest city, Iqaluit has under 7,000 individuals, and out of 25 communities, most of them are generally poor and to a great degree rural. Nunavut is composed of 1,936,113 km2 of land and 157,077 km2 of water in Northern Canada, representing 21 percent of the country’s total area (Canada Guide). Nunavut encounters five seasons throughout the territory. Because of its huge size, these seasons can be experienced in an unexpected way. Temperatures differ broadly by community. The average temperature in Kugluktuk is the hottest in Nunavut, sometimes to 30°C in the late spring and extending from – 15°C to – 40°C in the winter. Spring temperatures are more predictable all through the territory. The cool days of spring in Nunavut have a lot of daylight. From late March to the end of May, the daylight reflected off the snow and ice can cause extreme sunburn, so, in spite of the cold, using sunscreen is prudent (Nunavut Travel).

Musician from the Arctic

Susan Aglukark recorded “Song of the Land” to honor her homeland, Nunavut. She was born in January 1967 in Churchill, Manitoba and is currently 51 years old. Aglukark is a Juno Award-winning Inuk songwriter and singer. Aglukark is one of Canada’s most outstanding artist and a leading music sensation. Her blend of country, world music and easy-listening pop is distinguished by her gentle voice, upbeat melodies and inspirational lyrics sung in English and Inuktitut (Bateman, Jeff). The lyrics of Aglukark’s music are so pure and honest, which adds deeper emotion into the song. Her inspirational work focusing on themes like hope, spirit, and encouragement have motivated a lot of her listeners and helped them through the path of life. Aglukark’s work is heavily influenced by her landscape. In a video that I came across on YouTube, Susan mentioned a story about her dad bringing home a guitar with only two or three strings and he said that, “I am gonna play a couple Elvis Presley songs out in the middle of the tundra” (NFB). Then, she mentioned that music has run in all of her family’s lives. She also mentioned that she is learning how to throat sing now. Susan’s music reflects humanity, as she mentioned in an interview that people in her hometown are generally poor, so she wanted to help them and that’s how she began to write music and record it. “The North is the place where I feel I am completely myself.

We are not who we are without our land, our language, and our people. ‘Home’ is not even strong enough. That’s your heart” (NFB). These words were spoken by Aglukark while signifying the importance of land, and that is how her landscape influences her work. Analysis of “Song of the Land”The music in “Song of the land” is very sweet and gentle forcing us to focus on vocals and the lyrics. The music is very slow and calm, and it made me feel relaxed just by focusing on the words. The calming tone of the words perfectly fits with the way Susan is singing the song. The message of the song is to signify the importance of her homeland as depicted clearly in stanza one (see appendix A). The words in this stanza really represent Susan’s relationship with her land and how much she loves and respects her land. It also perfectly portrays the landscape of Nunavut. The second stanza (see appendix A) flawlessly represents Susan’s love for her culture, and how she is honoring her traditions and culture. In her culture, elders are cherished, there is room for everyone and people are very accepting. The third stanza (see appendix A) shows how land influences every common man by its language, culture, and tradition and how every man should realize the importance of their land. The last stanza (see appendix A) represents the environment of Nunavut where the wind gently blows and where wild geese fly. It also depicts the cultural values of Inuit people and how peaceful, welcoming, and accepting they are. I feel a personal connection with this song because this song reminds me of my own land. Your land makes you who you are and shapes your identity. It distinguishes your values and beliefs and identifies your future. If I was born in a country other than Pakistan, I would be a completely different person today and have different mindset and values. Therefore, this song is purely influenced by the relationship Susan has with her land.

Conclusion

Canadian music is profoundly influenced by Canadian landscape. It is influenced by the region’s climate, the artist’s culture and upbringing, and their connection with their land. The artist’s mood, experiences, and their passions are all going to be affected by the climate of their landscape. The Inuit culture and the upbringing of my artist adds the deeper meaning behind her song, which also affected her strong relationship with her land. Through this research, I discovered the beauty of Nunavut and that the territory is much more than just winter. Nunavut is full of rich culture, traditions, languages, climate, and diversity which hugely influences its artists by their experience, the beauty and charm of the horizons of their land, their relationship with their land, the challenges they had to face while growing up and how they grew up on their land. Through my research, I came up with the thesis of how Canadian landscape influence Canadian music.

I came up with that thesis because my research about Susan Aglukark made me conclude that the artist’s mood, experiences, and her passions are all going to be affected by the climate of their landscape, as she has a special connection with her land. When I started this research paper, I had very restricted imagination about Nunavut. However, now I feel that I did go beyond the clichés, not just in terms of the research paper, but for my understanding too. While researching, I watched videos on Nunavut’s tourism and the beauty of the territory mesmerized me and left me in an awe. As Emily Carr said, “It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw.”

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