Kelly Amaujaq Fraser just moved to Winnipeg in September to start a new position with the Aboriginal School of Dance. But the Sanikiluaq, Nunavut-born singer/songwriter is no stranger to the Heart of the Continent.
“I moved to Winnipeg for six months (in 2014) to become a famous singer,” Fraser says. “That didn’t exactly work out.”
Fraser might be selling herself short. In those four years, she’s released two albums of music in both English and Inuktitut, as well as covers of pop songs translated into Inuktitut through YouTube (her cover of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” garnered 322,000 views).
Her second album, Sedna (named for the Inuit goddess of the sea), was nominated for Indigenous Album of the Year at the 2018 Junos, and she was a winner of a 2019 Indspire Award.
“I’ll be using the prize money to fund my next album, Decolonize,” she says.
The last four years away from Winnipeg were important ones for Fraser, who took Native Studies at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in Merritt, B.C. and Inuit Studies at Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa.
“I learned about how the rest of the country sees (Indigenous Canadians),” she says. “I didn’t like what I saw.”
She’s channelled that dislike into popular action, frequently travelling to northern communities to hold days-long songwriting workshops.
“We show people, ‘Here’s how to write songs in Inuktitut,’” she says. “We show them, ‘Here’s how to use the software to record your songs. Here’s how to access funding to release them.’”
“My First Nations friends have been so generous teaching me. They always say, ‘It’s not just ours. It’s yours, too.’”
Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines
“I’m going to be getting my first face tattoo soon.”
“I always sleep with this doll. I love her because she’s an Inuit doll made by an Inuit artist, and I grew up with dolls that didn’t
look like me.”
“I performed in Greenland. Everyone there was warm and welcoming. They all have very nice accents and live in brightly coloured houses.”
Bow and arrows
“This is my bow. It’s a 55-pounder, but it doesn’t have a string on it right now.”
A quick snack
“This is reindeer. I brought it down from my community. You can’t really get reindeer or caribou (in Winnipeg). This is still