By Leela Gilday, Artistic Director
In the North we are very aware of our vital relationship with the land and water. In Denendeh, Dene worldview suggests that we are not separate from our land or water- but that we are an integral part of it. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, the system of Inuit traditional knowledge and social values -is based on a long and close relationship with the land and environment. Traditional Inuit ways of knowing and being are based on teaching the land, learning the land. In our lives as northerners, we learn to “walk lightly” on the earth and continually acknowledge that she must be treated with respect and dignity.
We also learn to leave our mark on each other. People do not thrive in isolation. We were created in community- our relationships with our family and our larger community are what shape, sustain and inspire us. We reach out with our thoughts and actions impacting each other in strong, positive ways. Like the lines of traditional tattoos signify these relationships and events, we leave our mark on one another, binding us together.
The projects and the Laureates of the AIP have always celebrated community relationships and activities above those of physical infrastructure, and have always acknowledged the powerful connection of northerners to the land and water. This year the theme of the AIP musical presentations will celebrate walking lightly on the earth and leaving our mark on each other.
Vision Quest – Nick Johnson and Yudii Mercredi are a dynamic contemporary hip-hop duo. from Whitehorse, Yukon. They have roots in Gwich’in (Mercredi) and Southern Tutchone (Johnson) communities. Their powerful music focuses on shared social, political and economic issues facing Indigenous people across the world, and resilience above all.
Beatrice Deer – Acclaimed “Inuindie” pop star Beatrice Deer is a singer-songwriter based in Montreal singer-songwriter. Half Inuk and half Mohawk, Beatrice was born and raised in Nunavik, Quebec, in the small village of Quaqtaq. She has released six studio albums, including her newest, titled SHIFTING. Her award-winning songs are crafted upon deeply personal lyrics and blend indie rock and modern folk with traditional Inuit stories and throat singing. A role model to her community and a stalwart advocate for mental health, Beatrice feels strongly that each of us, no matter what we’ve been through, has the ability to transform our personal outlook. Her message, whether shared in song or at speaking engagements, comes from her own lived experience of overcoming countless obstacles.
Terry Uyarak – is a self-taught singer/songwriter and musician from Igloolik, Nunavut whose songwriting reflects his experiences as a husband, father and hunter. His Inuit language and culture are strongly embedded into his everyday life, and there’s a strong sense of community that resounds in his music. Terry’s Juno-nominated debut album “Nunarjua Isulinginniani” carefully weaves together storytelling, soundscape and song to carry each listener on a journey, by dog team, to the ends of the word. He will be performing with his stellar band.
Leela Gilday – (Artistic Director)- is a celebrated musician, songwriter, singer, guitarist, composer and creator from Denendeh. Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, she writes about the people and the land that created her — of love, life, a rugged environment and vibrant culture. Her music has been recognized with many awards, including two Junos, and she has toured nationally and internationally for the better part of 25 years. She is the musical director for the Arctic Inspiration Prize Ceremony (2018–2023), and sits on the Executive Working group for the National Indigenous Music Office. As a music supervisor, she curates and licenses Indigenous music for Indigenous film, television and podcasts. She is an activist and an advocate for Indigenous voices. She is a self-managed artist that has made a practice of amplifying other young Indigenous artists, and embraces community-minded ways of being in the world.