Naiome Eegeesiak was six years old when she first saw somebody play the fiddle, and told her mom, “I want to do that.”
The next summer, Eegeesiak enrolled at the Iqaluit Music Camp.
The camp is now celebrating its 24th year, and Eegeesiak, 31, has gone from being a student to a teacher.
“I think I have more fun than [the students] do. I love teaching music,” said Eegeesiak.
The five-day camp is run by the Iqaluit Music Society and this year, 160 children attended.
Campers take part in everything from drum dancing, xylophone and bucket drumming, to dance and choir.
After Eegeesiak learned how to play the fiddle, she took up the accordion.
Eegeesiak said when she was 12 years old, she became a junior instructor and began learning how to teach.
Kids at the camp play the accordion. (Travis Burke/CBC)
She has been volunteering teaching fiddle since she was 16, and now she also runs the accordion program.
“I want to volunteer so that other kids can have the same, if not more, opportunities,” said Eegeesiak.
“I had so much fun growing up, and if it wasn’t for volunteers, I probably wouldn’t have had those many amazing trips and memories.”
Minnie Akeeagok is a self-taught throat-singer who’s now teaching the craft at the camp. (Travis Burke/CBC) ‘Brings my culture closer to me’
Eegeesiak is just one of many students who returned to inspire and teach the next generation.
Molly Ell, 22, first came to the camp when she was about 12 years old.
She now teaches throat-singing and drum dancing.
“It brings my culture closer to me,” Ell said.
“My grandmother, she used to throat-sing, and my grandfather, he use to drum dance … and when it comes to teaching the kids, it brings so much joy to me.”
Ell said the group she was teaching practiced together for about two hours a day — and they learned fast.
Molly Ell with her students. The 22-year-old teaches drum dancing at the Iqaluit Music Camp. It offers workshops in everything from drum dancing, xylophone, bucket drumming, dance and choir. (Travis Burke/CBC)
It was Minnie Akeeagok’s first year instructing, but she’s been attending music camp since she was six.
“This is where it started with my throat-singing, and now I’m teaching kids because it had a big impact on my life, and now I watch them learn how, like I did,” she said.
Akeeagok said she originally taught herself throat singing when she was four, but the music camp showed her how to properly take care of her voice and “helped me to get to where I am right now.”
She hopes to pass those lessons on to her students.
“I give all my credit to the teachers I had in the past to help me know what I can do now.”
The students showed off all their new skills at the camp’s concert at Inuksuk High School on Friday night.
About 160 kids between five- and 10-years-old took part in this year’s camp. (Travis Burke/CBC)