Inuit musician Shauna Seeteenak releases debut album
Therapy Sessions deals with weighty subjects, including suicide and residential schools
After 15 years as a musician — mainly in hip hop — Inuit artist Shauna Seeteenak, 29, has released her debut album.
“I’m really excited,” Seeteenak said.
The album’s name, Therapy Sessions, reflects how music has served as an outlet for her to express herself, she said.
“It’s been a therapist to me,” Seeteenak said.
The album’s themes include suicide, residential schools, self-expression through art and how to deal with people who Seeteenak said are complicated.
One of the heavier songs that Seeteenak notes is Too Many Coffins, which touches on suicide. Seeteenak partnered with Greenland artist Peand-eL and former Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq for the track.
Seeteenak said the song is dedicated to Larry Tamusaia, also known as Larry T, who was a friend who took his own life.
“He was really talented and a great role model,” Seeteenak said.
Qaqqaq is featured at the end of the song with an excerpt from a speech she gave at the House of Commons last year following her tour of housing conditions in Nunavut.
Qaqqaq’s speech addressed how overcrowded housing in Nunavut has led to a poor quality of life, and even death.
“Inuit are dying and have been before this pandemic,” Qaqqaq said in a part of her speech that was featured in the end of the song.
Seeteenak has been lifelong friends with Qaqqaq — she said they have known each other since being in diapers. Seeteenak was finished making Too Many Coffins by the time Qaqqaq gave her speech. But Seeteenak said she was so moved by Qaqqaq’s words that she asked her friend if she could use the speech in her song.
“It’s a song that really touched me deep down in my heart,” Seeteenak said.
“I hope that people will hear it and hear our story of resiliency.”
Other songs include the title track, Therapy Sessions, and a remake of one of Seeteenak’s more popular songs, Qiviktailigit, also known as Don’t Give Up.
Seeteenak, who grew up in Baker Lake, said she hopes the album encourages other Inuit youth and Nunavummiut to follow their goals.
“I wanted to be a role model for the youth and Nunavummiut so that they can see anything they put their minds to, they can do it,” Seeteenak said.
This album is also about educating the rest of the world about Inuit, Seeteenak said, adding there are still misconceptions that Inuit live in igloos or don’t use technology.
“I would like to show them we’re not as different as anyone around the world,” Seeteenak said.
The process for creating Therapy Sessions began in Sept. 2019 when Seeteenak partnered with Thor Simonsen of Hitmakerz to create the album. After getting funding from the Government of Nunavut, Seeteenak began to produce the album.
Working through the pandemic has brought challenges for Seeteenak’s album release, as she still cannot hold launch parties or live performances yet. But Seeteenak said she is optimistic that she will be able to tour soon.
But she said she wants to stay based in Nunavut and make a change in her territory.
“This is my home,” Seeteenak said.