Nunavut song contest offering big prizes to winners

GN seeking original Inuktut songs to record and distribute for language month


The Qilaut Inuktut Songwriting Contest invites songwriters of all ages across Nunavut to write an original song with Inuktut lyrics. You stand to win one of 10 prizes worth between $500 and $5,000.

The Qilaut Inuktut Songwriting Contest invites songwriters of all ages across Nunavut to write an original song with Inuktut lyrics. You stand to win one of 10 prizes worth between $500 and $5,000.

Maybe you’ve got a rap song bouncing around in your head. Maybe it’s more of a gospel song. Maybe it’s just a melody you’ve been humming that your anaanatsiaq used to sing when she was sewing.

If you feel like writing a song with Inuktut lyrics, there’s no better time than right now.

The Government of Nunavut’s culture and heritage department has launched an Inuktut songwriting contest with some serious prizes for the winners.

Much like the Birthday Song contest that the government ran last year, culture and heritage is looking for original Inuktut songs to compile on a CD for language month, which comes each February

The winning songwriter takes home $5,000, the second place winner gets $2,500 and third place gets $1,500. Seven other prizes of $500 each will also be handed out and then those 10 songs will be professionally recorded on the CD for distribution around Nunavut.

“This is to promote our language and it’s also to support the arts in our language,” said Tocasie Burke, manager of language promotion and revitalization for the culture and heritage department.

“We’re very happy to do this. We’re excited about the project. We want to hear from all the songwriters and singers out there. We know there’s quite a few. There really isn’t a lot of contests like this where people could get their song recorded professionally. That can be pretty expensive.”

There are a few rules which you can read here but these are the basics:

• you must be a Nunavut resident;

• songwriters can team up but they must include at least one Nunavut resident;

• songs must be 90 per cent in any Inuktut dialect and must be accompanied by a sheet of written lyrics;

• songs must be original; you can use traditional melodies if you want but you have to write original lyrics. Recycling songs already published and/or recorded is not permitted; and,

• there is no minimum age requirement but those under 19 must have consent from a parent or guardian.

The deadline for entries is Oct. 9 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Standard Time and winners will be announced on Nov. 7 in Iqaluit.

Burke said the winners will be chosen by a panel of judges but those judges have not been officially chosen yet. That’s because some of the people they have in mind might actually enter the contest so they have to wait until the contest is closed before approaching them.

Entry forms and more detailed explanations for the Qilaut Inuktut Songwriting Contest can be found here.

Burke said they have created a dedicated gmail address so people can upload and send audio files without those big files getting snagged in government servers. You can also put an audio file on a USB key or CD and mail it in.

For last year’s birthday song contest, an elder arranged to sing a song over the phone, Burke said, he was actually chosen as one of the winners.

“It’s not going to be judged by the quality of the recording. We’ll do everything we can to help people,” she said.

“It’s very interesting. Sometimes we get surprised just how different everyone is. We get all kinds of variety of responses. We even want children trying.”

Burke said organizers are hoping the contest will be an annual thing. Future contests may be guided by certain themes but this year, entrants are welcome to write songs about anything they choose.

The CD of songs will be distributed during language month, in February 2016. It will be sent to schools, libraries, hamlet offices, Inuit organizations and others bodies around the territory and extra copies will be available for individual members of the public as well.

If you don’t find all the answers you’re seeking from the contest website, you can send your queries to [email protected] or call 867-975-5500.

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