Susan Aglukark to help revive Inuksuk music program

Inuksuk High School is getting a $10,000 check from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to revive its long-dead music program.

MICHAELA RODRIGUE
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — Students at Iqaluit's Inuksuk High School will celebrate the revival of their music program with singer Susan Aglukark, pi a and a $10,000 cheque today.

The Canadian singing star was scheduled to make a special appearance at the high school and present officials with a $10,000 cheque for the purchase of music instruments.

The cheque, and an accompanying pi a party, is courtesy of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).

Inuksuk has been without a music program for about 10 years. This fall a music teacher was hired and the program was revived with money from the Baffin Divisional Education Council (BDEC).

The Iqaluit Music Society lobbied for the program's revival and was working alongside the BDEC to find money when it discovered the CARAS fund to supply music instruments, said Judy Watts, the music society's treasurer.

The society and the school applied for the money and were told they'd been selected in September.

Inuksuk's new music teacher, Ryan MacLeod, is now building a program from scratch with the help of the new instruments.

The money went towards the purchase of 10-15 instruments, MacLeod said. In total Inuksuk spent $40,000 on instruments this year, said Inuksuk co-principal, Ken Sykes. The instruments arrived in September.

Students can rent instruments from the South, but MacLeod said running a successful music program in the North often requires providing instruments for students.

"We have a wider variety of economic backgrounds here. For some, [students] where food and shelter is a more pressing concern, it is the responsibility of the music society and of the school to provide an instrument," MacLeod said.

About 90 students, or a quarter of the school's population, are enrolled in music classes at Inuksuk. A single instrument is often shared between two or three students. MacLeod said that, ideally, each student should have their own instrument.

Watts said the music society's role in finding the money should prove how much the community wants music taught in its schools.

The music society will continue look for more money for the program, Watts said and it will continue to run summer music camps.

MacLeod said it is common for northern communities to rally behind music programs.

Music is often considered to be as important as subjects such as math or English, but it is a program that can give back to the community, he said.

For example, the music society will be able to use the schools instruments and students may perform at community events, MacLeod said.

"Musicians can go out and perform and allow people to experience different emotions," MacLeod said.

Festivities were scheduled to get underway at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Aglukark is not scheduled to sing.