With events across the globe being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual summer activities and festivals seen during the summer in Nunavik weren’t spared. But the municipality of Kuujjuaq wasn’t going to let the pandemic take away all the fun!
Aqpik Jam, Nunavik’s largest music festival, is usually held to coincide with the ripening and harvesting of aqpik during the second week of August. As with many events in 2020, Aqpik Jam wasn’t able to proceed as in previous years.
In lieu of the usual festival, the idea for The Aqpik Road Show was hatched, born from an Initiative by Liam Callaghan, the Theatre/Technical Director at the Katittavik Town Hall, along with the support from the municipality and Mayor Sammy Koneak. Callaghan explained that in previous years he’s brought some artists in for Canada Day performances, using a truck parked outside. With the pandemic interrupting planned events at the town hall, the town was eligible for some financial assistance from Heritage Canada. Callaghan said he’s always wanted to put on an outdoor festival and 2020 presented the perfect opportunity.
This year, propped in front of the town hall was a stage built on top of a flat bed truck, a platform to host Kuujjuaq’s local talent.
“It was like a drive-in rock show!” Callaghan said.
With vehicles lined up in front of the stage and onlookers standing in the buckets of their pickups, the local performers went to town performing hits from many well-known bands along with originals that left the audience in awe.
The first Aqpik Road Show was held August 19, featuring performances by Etua Snowball (Sinuupa) and The Three Wheelers. September 1 marked the second edition of the Road Show. The evening brought performances from a group that Liam Callaghan jokingly referred to as “The Boyz.” For their performance that evening, the group consisted of Peter Nassak, Derek Tagoona, Adamie Delisle Alaku and Willis Tagoona. Liam himself performed shortly after, playing a mix of his favourite covers and originals for the crowd.
Niivi Snowball debuted her first original song titled, “Broken Mirror,” which was followed by cheers and honks of approval from the approximately 60 trucks in the parking lot.
With a few more songs from The Boyz to end the night, and with smiles all around, the Aqpik Road Show proved that despite the unusual times, some creative thinking can allow get-togethers to happen while still honouring safety measures. People can assemble while keeping two metres apart and still have a great time.
Callaghan said regardless of COVID-19, the Road Show is something he would like to continue in future years, with the goal of actually changing venues to different communities.