Pangnirtung musician takes first place in Nunavut songwriting contest

Joey Nowyuk’s song Nunaga will appear on a compilation album in 2019

By SARAH ROGERS

Qilaut songwriting-contest winner Joey Nowyuk, far right, is pictured with Nunavut's Culture and Heritage Minister David Joanasie and second-place finalist Amanda Ishulutaq at the legislature on Wednesday, Nov. 7. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)


Qilaut songwriting-contest winner Joey Nowyuk, far right, is pictured with Nunavut’s Culture and Heritage Minister David Joanasie and second-place finalist Amanda Ishulutaq at the legislature on Wednesday, Nov. 7. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

A young Pangnirtung songwriter has won first place in this year’s Qilaut Inuktut songwriting contest, hosted by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture and Heritage.

Joey Nowyuk’s song Nunaga took top honours in the annual songwriting competition, it was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

The 23-year-old was in Iqaluit to celebrate the news and received a round of applause during his Wednesday afternoon visit to the Legislative Assembly.

Nowyuk said he wrote Nunaga, or my land, while he was boating near Pangnirtung last summer.

“It’s mostly talking about the creation of Nunavut,” he said. “And also the challenges faced by the people of Nunavut, like the housing shortage and suicides.”

Another of Nowyuk’s songs, Tamaani, placed third in this year’s Qilaut competition.

Nowyuk started playing the guitar when he was about 15 years old, but it wasn’t until years later that he says he felt comfortable writing his own songs.

He’s played Iqaluit’s Alianait arts festival once before but would like to play more live shows and put out an album. “Hopefully soon,” he said.

The first-place win comes with a cash prize of $5,000, which could get him started.

Pangnirtung seems to be producing a number of up-and-coming young songwriters; Qilaut’s second-place finalist, Amanda Ishulutaq, also comes from the Baffin community.

The Department of Culture and Heritage received 23 song submissions, which were judged by a panel who selected ten finalists.

All 10 tracks will be professionally recorded, and that album will be released next year to coincide with Nunavut’s 20th anniversary.

The finalists are listed below:

1. “Nunaga” by Joey Nowyuk of Pangnirtung

2. “Iqqaumaquvagit” by Amanda Ishulutaq of Pangnirtung

3. “Tamaani” by Joey Nowyuk of Pangnirtung

4. “Nunavuqaliq&uta Quviasukpugut” by Angela Amarualik of Igloolik

5. “Piusituqait” by Kinngait Band of Cape Dorset

6. “Ulirnaisivut” by Amanda Ishulutaq of Pangnirtung

7. “Ippigijauttiarngat” by Tooma Laisa of Iqaluit

8. “Iliqqusirimmagu” by Daniel Kolola of Iqaluit

9. “Qilalukkiqsiiluni” by Daniel Taukie of Iqaluit

10.“Surusiunirnut” by Kinngait Band of Cape Dorset

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