Siqiniup Qilauta

Heart of the Arctic 2016 - Day 5 - Lower Savage Islands - welcome ceremony Beedell- © Mike Beedell

A guest post by Heidi Langille and Lynda Brown. Photo by Mike Beedell.

There is a legend among the Inuit about the halo that appears around the sun. Known in some parts as siqiniup qilauta—roughly translated, “the sun’s drum”, it is a good sign; a symbol of good luck.

There are approximately 56,000 Inuit living in Canada in four distinct areas, as well as in urban centres such as Ottawa. Led by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National organization representing Inuit in Canada, each area—Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut—shares common cultural practices, but celebrates different histories. For instance, in Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador, the Moravian missionaries have been present since the eighteenth century—but in Nunavut, ongoing contact with government representatives didn’t really start to happen until the 1950s. Inuit is the Inuktitut word meaning “the people”. One person is an Inuk, two people are Inuuk, and three or more are Inuit—pronounced ee-new-eet. You may have heard the term ‘Eskimo’—commonly used until recently. Eskimo is a northern Cree word meaning “eaters of raw meat”—and while there is some truth to the name, Inuit much prefer to be called Inuit!

Siqiniup Qilauta is also name of our musical group. Located in Ottawa, we have travelled nationally and internationally demonstrating traditional and contemporary Inuit throat singing, drum dancing, and games—as well as providing interactive workshops on the history of the Inuit, and their current realities. We believe strongly in the strength and resiliency of a cultural people that moved from igloo to iPod in such a short time. We enjoy sharing our culture and the many questions and interests that people have surrounding Canada’s northern people. Sharing the beauty and the strength of this dynamic culture, we hope to create a better world, full of understanding, for our children—and for all Inuit children.

You can hear Sunsdrum performing at Adventure Canada’s upcoming event in Toronto, Northbound!

Heidi is an urban Inuk with family roots in Nunatsiavut. She is one of the founders of the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre which empowers Inuit families in Ottawa with many programs and services. Heidi was nominated as one of the National Aboriginal Role Models in 2010–2011 which has enabled her to motivate and inspire Aboriginal youth across Canada. One of the many things that Heidi enjoys is providing interactive presentations to all Inuit walks of life including throat singing, history, current events, drumming, and Inuit games. She lives with her husband and their six children.

Lynda was born in Nunavut, her mother’s family originates from Pangnirtung, and her father is of Scottish descent. Upon graduating from Trent University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Native Studies and Psychology, she moved to the nation’s capital. In Ottawa, home to the largest southern Inuit community, Lynda and her husband Rob Nicholson, raise their three young children. Lynda loves her work with the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre and is very involved with her community. She volunteers her time, primarily focussing on Inuit women and children and affordable housing. She is the President of Inuit Non-Profit Housing Incorporation, and has been serving on this board for six years. She participated in the 2008 Governor General Leadership Conference. Lynda is a traditional throat singer and drummer, and shares her cultural knowledge through demonstrations, information sessions and workshops. She performs locally, nationally and internationally.

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