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Drum festival slated for spring

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Gjoa Haven (Mar 08/04) - For Allen Aglukkaq, there is nothing in the world like the sound of a drum.

Now Aglukkaq is thrilled Gjoa Haven is hosting a regional drum dancing festival, April 19-24.

About 20 people from around the North are expected to attend.

"We're trying to get young people to learn how to drum dance," said Aglukkaq, chair of a newly formed drum dance society called Nunavut Huqulariit Society. "They may learn traditional knowledge from the elders with the songs and the traditional value of drum dancing," he said.

Louie Kamookak said people are already going on the radio in Gjoa Haven, excited about hosting drum dancers from Baker Lake, Rankin Inlet and Repulse Bay. Even drummers from Cambridge Bay and Inuvik have expressed an interest in attending.

It is important for Aglukkaq that drummers in the Kitikmeot and Keewatin regions come together in one big drum dancing society, so it will be easier for them to get funding to travel to different communities in Nunavut for drum dancing events in the future.

"It is important to find out how other people drum dance," Aglukkaq said of welcoming people from across the North. "If you come, you can try. We're expecting anyone to come in to try and drum dance. You'll never know what you can do until you try."

Drum dancing and singing is vital to the survival of Inuit storytelling, Aglukkaq said.

"Each elder passes on their songs to another generation," Aglukkaq said.

"When this started happening," he said speaking of the festival, "I saw more young people joining in singing as well as dancing. The songs they are singing reflect animals the elders caught in the past, or an event that happened in the past. Hard times. That would be part of the songs," he explained.

Aglukkaq suggests that interested participants arrive in Gjoa Haven on April 19.

If you don't have family to stay with, accommodations will be sought out for you, Aglukkaq said.