Akearok show opener
"I learned a lot more than I taught."

by Janet Smellie
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 011/96) - Performing Johann Sebastian Bach for Canadian virtuoso Jon Kimura Parker and a packed hall recently was one honor Jason Akearok says he'll have trouble topping.

Originally from Hall Beach, Akearok doesn't foresee a professional future in performing but he's already won two awards for songwriting and was last seen playing on the CBC True North concert.

His passion for classical music started at a young age. He was in school in Iqaluit when music teacher Douglas Ireland got him involved in playing guitar.

"We had a choice of what instrument we wanted to play, I picked up a guitar and that was it. I was in love."

After a brief break from the North to attend the University of Victoria where Akearok studied music and fine arts, he returned to Iqaluit where he now works with the RCMP.

"I'm working on a program with Youth Services Canada trying to help young people find jobs

and get involved in the community. I do love music, but I don't expect to make a career of it."

It was while studying in Victoria that Akearok won his awards, the Murray Adaskin award for composition and a national SOCAN award for best composition for Ikii, Inuktitut for "I am cold."

Akearok says that, while he misses Victoria, where he played various venues, his heart is in Nunavut and that's where he plans to stay.

"I really like my job helping young people. We're getting them involved with elders and doing volunteer work in the community. I also get a chance to play a few restaurants here, and I'll keep writing."

Akearok practises up to four hours every day as a form of therapy. "It relaxes me, and gets me excited, too. It's just something I love."

He says working at this year's music camp, which was held at a local school, was also a great way to share his interest in music with young people.

"It was great just showing children how to string cords and read music. It was my first time. I think I learned a lot more than I taught."