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Canadian singer from Northern Canada’s Nunavut, Susan Aglukark, says, “Music has been a way for me to give a voice to the silent struggles of my people and to create hope for a better tomorrow.”
Susan is a three-time Juno Award winner, and recipient of the Order of Canada (2005) and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). She has performed for Queen Elizabeth, Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney and Nelson Mandela and has been called one of Canada’s 100 leaders to watch for, by Maclean’s Magazine.
Through her personal lyrics and story, Susan sings and speaks of her Inuk heritage while giving voice to the social state of the Canadian Aboriginal community.
With the release of her latest album “White Sahara”, Susan highlights songs such as “Where Do We Go From Here” a question asked on behalf of many Aboriginal youth to its leaders, while songs like “Revolution Road” reminds listeners that warriors and heroes exist among everyday people.
According to statistics from Health Canada, suicide rates amongst Inuit youth are amongst the highest in the world, at nearly 11 times the national average. In addition, First Nations youth are five to seven times more likely to die by suicide than a non-Aboriginal youth.
When you download Susan’s song Take A Little Less, off the album Blood Red Earth, all proceeds get donated to Collateral Damage, a project that aims to raise suicide awareness. Download from the iTunes store for $0.99 here.
Your ultimate message "to learn to be yourself and believe in that person" is so important, was there ever a time when you didn't know who you were? What was it like?
The hardest time in terms of identity crisis was shortly after moving to Ottawa before the singing career started to happen. It felt like always being afraid that someone will tell me I am in the wrong place no matter where I was.
Is it a constant struggle to stay true to yourself throughout life or do you have great strength keeping you clear sighted?
Most days I am okay, there are the odd days every now and again when I doubt myself.
Nature is such an important part of Northern and Aboriginal Canadians. Do you ever turn to nature when your mind is troubled? Do you have a place that you go to when you need to escape?
Nature is a big part of my life, I grew up camping and hunting and fishing, I go up north to Nunavut at least once a year to go out on the land.
You are very passionate about your work with Inuit and Aboriginal communities to address the social issues that affect them. Can you tell us more about this work and what you hope to accomplish?
I understand the struggle to make a life for one self, wherever that life is, I work to focus our goals and dreams to be in the moment, to keep believing that anything is possible.
Would you give some words of wisdom in regards to healing? How does one heal?
One heals when they are truly ready to and then only when they accept that healing happens in stages, and that we can only forgive a little at a time, it doesn’t all just go away, we have to be willing to do the work and to be ready to be always working towards that healed state.
What do you want to say to someone who is struggling and feeling lost?
I ask them to go back to that moment in their lives when they knew without a doubt what they wanted to be? And even for 5 seconds, 1 minute, two minutes a day focus on that. You will begin to believe again, even in small things.
Are your voice and your music cathartic for you? Do you experience a cleansing release of emotions when you sing about certain subjects or with strong emotions?
My music/lyrics are cathartic, creating them is where I really feel, sometimes it’s good feelings, sometimes it's bad feelings or angry feelings but I have learned to embrace the feelings or my reaction to them and trust my life.
What people or experiences best guided you to become the person you are today?
My parents have always been my role-models, my community of Arviat and its people have always been a source of strength.
Do you have a favourite memory from growing up in Nunavut/Northwest Territories?
My favorite memory is camping, spring time camping was my favorite time, being on the land, fishing, egg picking, walking out on the land. I loved it!
What gives you hope and gets you up each day?
My son and all children and youth.
What inspires you most about youth today?
That there are still clearly so many who chose to dream, I am always so inspired by the young artists coming up and my heart does a happy dance when I see that.