Darlene Nuqingaq from Nunavut has won a $1M Arctic Inspiration Prize that will allow her to realize the music program for kids. Born in Spryfield, N.S., Darlene Nuqingaq moved to Nunavut more than 30 years ago and was teaching music until she retired four years ago. In 2020, Nuqungaq’s proposal for a daily after-school music program for children as young as six ended up as a runner-up for the $1-million prize awarded to innovative Arctic projects. This year though, her proposal “Children and Youth Expressing Themselves Through Music” won the award.
“To see their reactions just affirmed to us, and we knew this, because they were the inspiration for our proposal, that this is a dream of many people,” she said.
Nuqingaq grew up in Halifax, where she learned the violin at city schools. She stated that in Nunavut, there are not many opportunities like that, despite the fact that the territory has lots of aspiring artists.
“Unfortunately, Nunavut, even though it’s a land of artists and musicians, we do not have music specialists in the elementary schools,” she said.
Nuqingaq hopes that she will expand the program across the country and that young Inuit music teachers will educate others in every territory. In the first year, the kids are being taught “culturally appropriate” songs, drum dances, and music readiness. In the second year, the children will learn the fiddle. The accordion is being taught in the third year.
Nuqingaq is happy that the Arctic project helped her achieve her goals.
“The Arctic Inspiration Prize is a fantastic opportunity. It allows us to dream and dream big.”