The CoffeeBar Kid talks with Nancy Mike from the Jerry Cans.
Nunavut is one of the iciest, arctic most remote places on earth. It's the largest, northernmost, newest and least populous territory in Canada.
The local lifestyle, firmly fixed in Inuit traditions and ways of life, rely on remote grocery runs and imports from nearby cities.
Among the various prohibition laws, wandering youth and daily struggle to preserve their native culture, one little folk band from Iqaluit, Nunavut's largest city, is making a whole lot of racket.
The Jerry Cans are described as part folk, part country, part reggae and part Celtic, with a unique Inuit point of difference – duet throat singing. They are one of the more 'exotic' acts to play at WOMAD in March.
Most of their music The Jerry Cans' music is written and sung entirely in Inuktitut. "For me, Inuktitut is my mother tongue," says Mike. "I find that writing and singing in Inuktitut, it's much easier for me to express myself, to express what we're trying to say – the stories we're telling."
"It's a combination of square dancing and folk dancing," explains Nancy Mike, the band's resident throat singer and accordion player. "When the Scottish whalers and Missionaries came in the early 1900's, they brought with them their own traditions."
"For me, Inuktitut is my mother tongue," says Mike. "I find that writing and singing in Inuktitut, it's much easier for me to express myself, to express what we're trying to say – the stories we're telling."
Mike, who helped teach partner and fellow band member Andrew Morrison how to read, write and speak in Inuktitut, believes preservation is paramount for younger Inuit generations.
"Audiences can expect to have fun. That's the goal here – to get people up and dancing. When people hear our sound, they're interested. They hear lyrics in Inuktitut and say 'wow, what is that, what do you call that?' they're curious," says Mike.
Having visited New Zealand twice before, The Jerry Cans resonate with our little part of the world, just as WOMAD audiences will no doubt resonate with theirs. "We visited Rotorua, beautiful. very special. Hot. Geysers and hot water all the time. Magic. Mind, to be anywhere where it's out of the snow all year is special."
The Jerry Cans are set to perform at the WOMAD Festival 2016, Friday 18 - 20 March, New Plymouth.