Strings attached: Violins, other instruments heading to a Labrador Inuit community

·3 min read
Makkovik music teacher Kendra Jacque is looking forward to working with young people through new musical instruments being provided through the TD Music Counts Grant.  (Submitted by Kendra Jacque  - image credit)
Makkovik music teacher Kendra Jacque is looking forward to working with young people through new musical instruments being provided through the TD Music Counts Grant. (Submitted by Kendra Jacque - image credit)
Submitted by Kendra Jacque
Submitted by Kendra Jacque

Violins, pianos, ukuleles and other musical instruments have been making their way to the northern Inuit community of Makkovik in Labrador, where leaders are hoping to spur new interest in music among youth.

A total of 50 instruments and accessories were ordered through the TD Music Counts program, which provided a grant of $11,000 to the Makkovik Inuit community government.

"Makkovik, as you know, has very talented musicians and with the COVID restrictions and everything … we wanted to take advantage of any opportunities that we could," said chief administrative officer Kate Mitchell.

Mitchell said the government applied to see if it could find funding for its recreation committee.

The application was approved. Ten guitars are on backorder for December, and 10 ukuleles, 10 harmonicas, 10 keyboards and 10 violins are being delivered, in addition to amps and accessories.

It was important to have a variety of instruments so they can suit the different interests of Makkovik's youth, she said.

"It is really important and I think it goes right back to the 1900s when there were people who were very accomplished in music and you know, they could read and play music by notes," Mitchell said. "Makkovik seems to have a rich history and accomplished musicians."

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

People throughout the community have already been putting their names forward to teach, Mitchell said. One is Kendra Jacque, who recently graduated from Memorial University

Jacque started learning music while in Grade 9 in Makkovik. At the time, instruments were brought in to diversify the arts programming but it unfortunately trickled away over the years. Now Jacque, 31, is back and ready to begin helping others learn the craft.

Jacque said music provided structure and time management, while also influencing her self-esteem and self-confidence.

Submitted by Kendra Jacque
Submitted by Kendra Jacque

"I was a little timid in high school, and I found that my violin helped me with my voice and sometimes my violin was my voice," she said.

"If I didn't know what to say, I could try to express that through music and I think that's going to be the case for the students here as well."

The grant was approved around the same time Jacque graduated from Memorial University, so everything lined up perfectly, she said.

"It just feels like having the new instruments is going to rejuvenate and revive the program. And there's going to be a bit of variety with the instruments that's offered. So hopefully there will be something for everybody," she said. "I'm hoping that the music program could just blossom."

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

Mitchell hopes young people will learn and play a combination of both traditional and modern music.

Other volunteers include Ben Williams, an RCMP officer, violin player Natalie Jacque, and keyboardist John Andersen.

There are also plans for a men's night as well, so the instruments will be used by all ages, she said. When looking to the future, Mitchell said she just hopes for some entertaining nights and believes some of the youth could even do recordings and see how far they go.

"So I don't know, some of our young people could possibly make a career of it."

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