Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut January 03, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Online fundraising campaign seeks help for ailing Nunavut music legend

Charlie Panigoniak needs help with housing costs

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
An online fundraising campaign aims to support the ailing Charlie Panigoniak, seen here performing at a music festival in Arviat in August 2016. (FILE PHOTO)
An online fundraising campaign aims to support the ailing Charlie Panigoniak, seen here performing at a music festival in Arviat in August 2016. (FILE PHOTO)

The family of the ailing Nunavut musician Charlie Panigoniak is reaching out to the public for help.

Panigoniak, who will turn 72 in March, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and the early signs of dementia.

The plea on the online fundraising GoFundMe.com page said Panigoniak now needs money to help cover the cost of power and fuel for his Rankin Inlet home.

“Charlie is paying out of his pension to pay his own house monthly [expenses] and that isn’t covering fuel/power plus groceries,” it said, mentioning that his wife, Lorna, who often provided vocals for Charlie’s songs, was laid off work in August due to a job transfer and has not yet started to receive employment insurance.

Panigoniak has been called a “living legend,” by John Main, now MLA for Arviat South.

Main helped to organize a 2016 tribute concert in Arviat for Panigoniak, whose Inuktitut songs and unique mix of country and western and traditional vocals influenced a younger generation of Inuit performers.

Panigoniak, who was born in Chesterfield Inlet, has also lived In Arviat for several years.

“His music is uplifting, some of it is more melancholic, but the thing I find with his songs, they all have a story, similar to other great artists like Johnny Cash. In that way, his music is very touching. It conveys emotion,” Main told Nunatsiaq News.

Panigoniak also had a knack of transforming southern music and songs into Inuit hits, such as his Inuktitut version of of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rutami tuktugaqalaunipuq.

Panigoniak’s music has been a mainstay on the radios and in community centres across Nunavut since the 1970s when a radio producer took notice of the musician, then living in Rankin Inlet, and started recording him for the CBC Northern Service.

As he became better-known, Panigoniak, along with his band, then travelled across the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Alaska and southern Canada to share his Inuktitut-language songs.

In 2016, Panigoniak received the Nunavut Commissioner’s Performing Arts Award.

“It is an honour to recognize Mr. Panigoniak for his outstanding contribution to Nunavut’s performing arts,” said Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak about Panigoniak.

“Charlie Panigoniak created songs as an Inuk. He has travelled to many places to perform and he is a very good role model.”

Panigoniak was also named to the Order of Nunavut in 2012. That same year, he also received a Diamond Jubilee medal, to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share