People & Culture

Passing the Mic, Part 2 — Taloyoak throat singers and hunters

Episode 76

In the second of three episodes from Taloyoak, Nunavut, podcast host David McGuffin speaks with young throat singers Joyce Ashevak and Martha Neeveacheak, as well as their classmate, hunter Roger Oleekatalik

  • Feb 14, 2024
Martha Neeveacheak and Joyce Ashevak, students at Netsilik School in Taloyoak, Nunavut, demonstrate throat singing. (Photo: Tom Lundy/Can Geo)
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In this episode, we’re back in Taloyoak, Nunavut, mainland Canada’s most northerly community, to talk with Joyce Ashevak, Martha Neeveacheak and Roger Oleekatalik. They are three of the students who took part in Canadian Geographic’s Passing the Mic program, which aims to give Inuit youth the tools to share their own stories with the world.

Joyce and Martha are both throat singers, a unique and incredibly powerful Inuit vocal art form. And Roger is one of the leading young hunters in this community, which sits on a peninsula jutting out into the Arctic Ocean, west of Hudson Bay. I got to spend an amazing week with them and 15 other students at the Netsilik School last October, teaching them interviewing, storytelling and podcasting. We’ll hear many of their stories over the next two episodes.

I started with these three young people because their stories are rooted in the land and in Inuit traditions and you can sense the positive impact this has had on them. A strong connection to culture has been proven to be important in overcoming challenges around mental health and addiction, which are major issues in northern communities. Martha and Joyce have been throat singing for several years. It is an amazing thing to witness and it was a pleasure talking to them about how powerfully it changes them and their lives.

Roger Oleekatalik shares his story as part of the Passing the Mic program. (Photo: Tom Lundy/Can Geo)
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We actually met Roger’s grandfather Jimmy on this podcast last fall, in an episode focused on Jimmy’s effort to create the first Inuit-led conservation area around Taloyoak. Roger is a chip off that block, for sure. In his last year of high school, he spends as much time as he can on the land, hunting to provide for his family and the community. It’s an occupation that brings him both pride and joy. I hope you enjoy these conversations, and the singing!

Passing the Mic is made possible with the support of Polar Knowledge Canada. And also by listeners like you who donate to the RCGS Polar Plunge fundraiser. The 3rd annual Polar Plunge is taking place March 4 in rivers, lakes and oceans across Canada; please consider donating to support our storytelling.


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