The Year of the North
2012-13 was named the Year of the North by the National Arts Centre (NAC), and its initiatives focused on building upon already-established relationships with Northern Aboriginal artists and developing sustainable culture-sharing initiatives. The initiative celebrated the artistry and heritage of the extraordinary talent of Northern Canada by touring the North with the NAC Orchestra, by expanding the Music Alive educational program, and by staging the biggest showcase of Northern artists that Canada has ever seen during the Northern Scene festival.
The NAC Orchestra tour and the Music Alive program offered a many opportunities for the Orchestra to encounter promising young artists and to introduce them to incredible music teachers. The connections established during the Year of the North will lead to meaningful relationships that will continue for many years.
The Year of the North included three activities: the continued expansion of the Music Alive educational program, a tour by the NAC Orchestra, and a festival to celebrate northern culture.
In 2010, the NAC’s Music Alive Program expanded to include remote communities in Nunavut, with a focus on developing long-term music education initiatives in three Qikiqtani communities: Iqaluit, Igloolik and Pangnirtung. The program also made an impact across communities of the Far North with workshops and training for young musicians, encouraging music-making and building students’ capacity to preserve northern music.
The NAC has developed strong relationships with northern artists, boards of education and communities. The partnerships forged have led to professional musicians working with youth, the donation of instruments to northern communities, community concerts showcasing northern musicians and celebrating Inuit music, music workshops for teachers-in-training, the funding of summer music camps and youth leadership summits, and distance-learning through broadband videoconference technology.
In 2012, the NAC Orchestra and guest artists toured for 10 days through rural communities in northern Canada. In advance of the tour, the NAC Orchestra received permission to transcribe ancient Inuit ayaya songs for Western instruments, which had been nearly forgotten during the time of assimilation policies and residential schools. The NAC helped to preserve Inuit music and highlighted its cultural value. The educational component of the tour included masterclasses, individual coaching, Q&A sessions, and workshops.
In 2013, the NAC hosted Northern Scene, a 10 day arts festival in the National Capital Region, featuring 355 diverse northern artists and art forms. It is hoped that the legacy of the festival will continue for many years to come.
It is hoped that the initiative will help to preserve Inuit music and highlight its cultural value, as well as lead to a continued relationship between the National Arts Centre and northern Aboriginal communities.