Looking for Inuit love songs to celebrate Valentine’s Day (or just want to have a love-filled day)? We’ve got you covered! From pop, rock and rap hits by singers like Elisapie and Shauna Seeteenak to folksy classics from the 1960s and traditional love songs that are hundreds of years old, we’ve got you covered with a playlist of 10 awesome and amorous Inuit tunes.
Better With You (feat. Aasiva)Shauna Seeteenak
First on our playlist is “Better With You (Feat Aasiva),” a rap and pop blend by Iqaluit, NU, artist Shauna Seeteenak. Released just before Valentine’s Day in 2021 as the first single from Seeteenak’s debut album Therapy Sessions, the song blends English lyrics—messages of love to Seeteenak’s partner, her “queen”— with an Inuktitut hook sung by fellow Inuk artist Aasiva.
We slow it down with “Moi, Elsie,” a piano-laced tune sung in French by the Juno Award–winning singer-songwriter Elisapie from Salluit, Nunavik, QC. A track off the singer’s first solo album, the 2009 There Will Be Stars, in “Moi, Elsie,” the singer laments a tragic north-south impossible love.
Next up is the wistful, acoustic “Naglingnirmik,” written and sung by emerging musician and writer Becky Han, who hails from Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), NU. Han has taken home multiple awards for songwriting from both the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Nunavut Department of Culture and Heritage in the past. Like many of Han’s songs, this one is about love and struggles—the title “Naglingnirmik” translates to “About Love” in English.
Another song title that translates love—Nagligivagit is Inuktut for “I Love You”—here singer-songwriter Beatrice Deer from Quaqtaq, Nunavik, QC, creates her own spin on a song that was originally written by Joey Ammaq and has been performed by several Inuit musicians. Deer’s version, which comes from her 2004 folk album Just Bea, features acoustic guitar, drums and Deer’s own voice dipping and rising in harmony.
The Love SongSophie and Faith Kokak
"The Love Song" is a traditional throatsinging song that has been sung by many, many musicians over the years, but always features two women standing face to face singing to one another. It’s a competition song, where she who laughs first loses. This particular version features young sisters from Kugluktuk, NU, Sophie and Faith Kokak, who created the recording as part of a 2019 ReelYouth project that had local youth work with Elders to record both traditional songs and a contemporary original, with music videos to accompany them.
The Love SongPIQSIQ
Remember when I said “The Love Song” had been performed by many, many musicians and has many variations? This version is by PIQSIQ, the throatsinging duo of Tiffany Ayalik and Inuksuk Mackay, sisters who grew up in Yellowknife, NT. This recording was originally created as part of a one-hour performance at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in 2020. The Centre and PIQSIQ re-released the full video recording as well as this cut-together Love Song portion in September 2021 in honour of Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Roseaqquluk and Ittuu-LaiteJoe Tuglavina and Margaret Saksagiak
A two-for-one special! Recorded in the late 1970s by CBC Happy Valley in Nain, Nunatsiavut, NL, this whole album is beautiful, but two songs in particular fit our love theme for today perfectly: “Roseaqquluk” (Beautiful Rose), sung by Joe Tuglavina and “Ittuu-Laite” (Old Man Sam), sung by Margaret Saksagiak. “Ittuu-Laite” is a particularly humorous submission for a love song, since the lyrics are actually nonsense verses frequently sung to children. The singer declares how much they wish to marry a man named Sammy, and goes on to list the many types of tobacco he has!
Tishialuk GirlsThe Flummies
“Tishialuk Girls” is a song based on a true story: Charlie Loyd wrote the song circa 1930 about the beauty of a family of young women from Tishialuk and his desire to marry one of them, Martha Cove, despite the disapproval of her father Sam Cove. Charlie never married Martha; the song was not widely known until the 1990s when it was recorded by Gary Mitchell and sung for community residents in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Nunatsiavut, NL, with one of the original Tishialuk girls, Gladys, in the audience. “Tishialuk Girls has subsequently been covered by a number of Newfoundland bands; this cover, by popular Labrador band The Flummies, comes from their 2007 album This is the Life For Me.
The last track on our love-song list is “Pigavit,” a soft jam perfect for slow dancing that’s written, sung and produced by emerging artist Calvin Pameolik of Arviat, NU. Pameolik mixes English and Inuktut lyrics throughout the song, but the central message is in the song’s Inuktut title, which means “you’re beautiful.”