When you can’t get a guitar, you make one.
It’s what Kolatalik Inukshuk and Naisana Qamaniq did when they were in grades 8 and 9, growing up in Igloolik (population: 1,000), now in Nunavut. The first drums their future bandmate John Inooya owned as a boy was a “sort of plastic Donald Duck drum kit," Inooya said in a 2011 IsumaTV documentary. These were the beginnings of Northern Haze, the first hard-rock band in North America to record an album in its native language of Inuktitut.
Members Inukshuk, Qamaniq, Inooya, James Ungalaq and Elijah Kunnuk officially formed Northern Haze in 1984, though they’d all been playing music — on whatever instruments they could access — years before that. They recorded their self-titled debut in 1985 with the CBC, releasing 500 copies, and played increasingly large festivals across the country, including Expo 86 in Vancouver. But in 2007, Northern Haze lost members Inukshuk and Kunnuk: the two died less than a week apart; Kunnuk from cancer, and Inukshuk was killed.
Remaining members Qamaniq, Inooya and Ungalaq have continued to play and record — with new bassist Derek Aqqiaruq — and they released a collection of all their recordings, from the ’80s to present, in 2012 under the title Sinnaktuq. But it was never released digitally, or commercially. Until this year.
Now signed to Aakuluk Music, Nunavut’s only record label, Northern Haze is re-releasing its Sinnaktuq collection to a wide audience for the first time. Listen to the riff-heavy Inuktitut rock songs now in our player to the left, and look out for it here on the May 26 release date.
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