Adjun keeps 'em dancing
NNSL (Aug 09/99) - When Kugluktuk's Colin Adjun was nine years old, he was so enthusiastic about playing the instrument that he would play even if the fiddle had only one string.
"I remember at Reid's Island at a Hudson Bay outpost. I'd grab a fiddle and try to play a tune with one string only," he says.
Still, his early fiddling sounded good enough for him to make an album sponsored by the CBC. He has put out two other albums since then.
When Adjun was 13 years old, he was playing at square dances on Reid's Island and his reputation as a fiddler started to grow.
"My mum made me a sealskin jacket and I sold it for $15," he says.
"Then I went out and bought a fiddle for $15. That was in 1958."
He credits uncles Charlie Avakana and John Kuneyuk as being inspirational in getting him to pick up the fiddling.
Though he also plays instruments such as the guitar, banjo, piano, accordion and mandolin, he is best known for his fiddling.
And that fame is not only in the High Arctic. It spreads from Nova Scotia to Yellowknife and into the United States where he has performed at several festivals.
"They pay my way out and sometimes they pay my fees," he says with a laugh.
This summer he has performed at Aklavik's Pokiak River Festival and Yellowknife's Folk on the Rocks.
Later this month he is set to go to Inuvik for a large private gathering featuring other known Northern fiddlers.
Adjun was born on Rymer Point on Victoria Island and grew up hunting and trapping.
He says the lack of southern supplies sometimes meant that he brushed his teeth with spruce gum as he lived off the land.
For the past 18 years he has worked as a wildlife officer with the NWT and now with the Nunavut government.
He has a new wife, Mavis Elias, and six children: Barbara, Larry, Nick, Ellie, Heather and Gustin Robert.
Outside of work and fiddling, he says he likes to get out on the land as much as possible and go boating.
"I've had a dog team since I was 14 years old and I still have a dog team," he says.
As for future plans, Adjun says he will just take things as they come, enjoy life and keep on fiddling.