Founders of Inuktitut rock, Northern Haze trace their beginnings to the mid-seventies, when bandmates Kolitalik Inukshuk, Naisana Qamaniq, James Ungalaq, Elijah Kunnuk and John Inooya bonded over gritty rock music in their small Arctic village, Igloolik, Nunavut. Never letting their remote circumstances deter them, they, with latest members Derek Aqqiaruq and Allan Kangok, forged a new sound and showcased the resilience of their people, language and culture in the process.
All self-taught musicians, the band’s humble start included jamming on homemade guitars and a toy drum set. By 1984 Northern Haze was formed, and in 1985 they released their groundbreaking self-titled record through the CBC Northern Service, widely praised as the first Indigenous-language rock album in North America.
Northern Haze’s riff-heavy sound nods to Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and has gained them invitations to perform at major festivals across Canada, touring Northern communities and receiving constant requests for radio play.
Through challenging times, including the passing of Elijah and Kolitalik, the band and its globa l buzz continues, putting out a compilation record, Sinaaktuq, in 2012, JUNO-nominated album, Siqinnaarut, in 2018, and being signed to Aakuluk Music, Nunavut’s first record label.
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Speak Up! is curated by David McLeod (member of the Pine Creek First Nation, MB), Indigenous programming consultant.