Way up North where there’s ice and snow, there’s also rock music. Can you believe it? It’s amazing what happens up there but then I’ve never been up there. From a small and short documentary like this there is so much you can learn about Indigenous culture AND when they explore other genres of music. Starting off the doc is a hit song from Northern Haze, an Indigenous Rock group from Nunavut that’s been around since 1984. The band consists of James Ungalaq, Naisana Qamaniq, John Inooya, Allan Kangok, and Derek Aqqiaruq. What do they sing about? Their culture. It’s also widely discussed in this doc which features interviews with James, the band’s lead singer. He dwells deeply on Indigenous history on how ancestors and the older generations were forced to give up their Inuit ways and convert to other religions that took over. He also talks about how he wants suicide, abuse, and homelessness to disappear, why Inuk culture is important and explains the meanings of some of the songs. For example, a song called Qainna which means Hello was a good song to start them off. As an Inuit band, they perform live that way dressing in heavy fur coats for their gigs and including Inuit drums in the music. Plus they sing in their ancient language of Inuktitut. James provides messages of hope and optimism for his fellow Inuits and we also get treated to some very nice landscape shots throughout the documentary.
The documentary is pretty short as I mentioned, but it’s still pretty exciting to learn about a band like this in Nunavut. A well worked out concept by director Andrew Morrison who also founded Nothern Haze’s record label Aakuluk Music. It’s the only record label in Nunavut so far, but it gives Indigenous Musicians and Artists the recognition they deserve. The interviews with James are very heartfelt and feel inspiring as he talks about many subjects. The whole thing is pieced together perfectly. Not only do you learn cool stuff, you get a feeling of culture and unity when you watch the film, which gives you a rare blend. You don’t see awesome and heartwarming in too many documentaries or even films nowadays.
Inuk: A Northern Haze Story premieres at Nunavut International Film Festival in Iqaluit on February 23, 2023. Check out Northern Haze as well, they got some cool music available on Spotify, and some other places.