Forty years of Toonik Tyme

Taima headlines a night of music and song


Toonik Tyme is always busy, but this year, several people were disappointed at the opening ceremonies at Iqaluit’s Nakasuk School on Monday night, when the fire marshal arrived and declared a full house, with no room for stragglers.

Inside, Madeleine Allakarialak played hostess, and got things started by inviting five Saami visitors from Karasjok, Norway onto the stage.

Two teachers – Arne Nystad and Terje Lindi – are visiting Inuksuk High School along with three students, Maret Biret Sara, Inger Eriksen and Malene Balto, who showed off the flounced skirts, embroidered boots and elaborate medallions of their traditional clothing, and sang in the traditional Saami style.

Peter Workman conducted the talented Iqaluit Community Orchestra, and then led the community choir through songs in English, and then Inuktitut.

Next came the music of the Aqsarniit School Choir, which provided several songs, a short juggling act, some drum dancing, and finally a fun children’s song that threw several singers into fits of laughter.

Jeff Tabvatah of Arviat took the stage for a traditional drum dance, narrated by Allakarialak, who described a hunters’ encounter with a strange owl.

Finally, Sylvia Watt-Cloutier and Akinisie Sivuarapik filled the room with throat songs, and promised to return at the closing ceremonies with new talent from students of their recent throat-singing workshop.

The main attraction came last when Taima took the stage, in their second performance in Iqaluit this week.

The Montreal-based group, lead by Salluit’s Elisapie Isaac, played a more intimate setting on April 16 at the francophone centre, where they had a sold-out crowd enthralled with songs from their debut self-titled CD.

Isaac didn’t hold back as she sang and recited spoken word poetry in English, French and Inuktitut. Crowd favourites included a sultry rendition of “Nalligigumavagit”

(I Want to Love You), and a forceful round of “So You Say,” a tune that Isaac characterized as good way to let out rage she feels about people being mistreated.

The band tried to leave after a 90-minute set of music, but came back for a few more songs after the room erupted in calls of “Aammalu,” a chant that Greenland concert-goers often use to request an encore.

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