Kuujjuaq reconnects at Aqpik Jam

After two-year hiatus, music festival’s return proves to be about more than just a celebration of song

Hannah Tooktoo was one of several exhibitors displaying there art in the lobby of the Kuujjuaq Forum Tuesday on the first day of the Aqpik Jam Music Festival. Tooktoo said this year’s event — the first in two years — is special because it’s giving people in Kuujjuaq a chance to reconnected. (Photo by Cedric Gallant, Special to Nunatsiaq News)

By Cedric Gallant,
Special to Nunatsiaq News

Kuujjuaq was bustling Tuesday — the first night of its Aqpik Jam Music Festival — as cars were parked all along the uphill road toward the Forum, the village’s hockey arena. Festival-goers entering the main parking lot were greeted by crowds of groups of parents and kids entering the venue for the event’s 2022 version.

The main entrance was full of people coming back and forth from the show, happening on the iceless ice rink. Tables were set up for artists to establish a shop and sell their wares. An elder was selling handmade ulu knives, others offered homemade cupcakes and Hannah Tooktoo had her hand-drawn art on display.

“Finally, there is an Aqpik Jam,” Tooktoo said.

After a few years on hiatus, Aqpik Jam returned with force.

“There is a lot of people showing up today to go enjoy music,” Tooktoo added. “After so long, it is nice to see people. I have seen maybe 20 friends that I have not been able to see for years tonight, its amazing to be able to reconnect!”

Tooktoo said that “lots of people from across Nunavik and Nunavut enjoy our festival.”

Aqpik Jam gets its name and time of year from the cloudberry. As Tooktoo said, the people coming here not only celebrate the festival, but also “to go pick some berries. This is Aqpik Jam for a reason! Right now, is the perfect time to go berry-picking since the berries are ripening.”

“I am here to enjoy the crowd,” Tooktoo said.

“I am here to sell some arts, prints, earrings that I beaded.”

She said she intended on coming back every festival day, saying that “by the end of the week, I should be sold out.”

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