Becky Han


Courtesy the Artist

Becky (Koonoo) Han is a singer, songwriter and author originally from Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), NU, who lives and works in Saskatchewan. Han is also known for her presence on social media platforms like TikTok, where she shares new songs and Inuktitut language lessons with her more than 22,000 followers. After asking for donations to the Inuujaq School in Ikpiarjuk in 2020, Han’s tweet caught the attention of actor Ryan Reynolds, who got in touch and collaborated with Canada Goose to donate more than 300 new parkas and additional winter apparel [1].

Han began writing after moving to southern Canada, both as a way to retain her grasp on the language and to feel closer to home. “In the beginning I was very homesick...it was my way of feeling connected with my language and culture and people,” [2] she says. While she initially wrote prose, she transitioned to songwriting when her husband gifted her a guitar one Christmas after hearing her talk about it, teaching herself to play using YouTube and Googling chords.

Musically, Han resists labelling her sound with genres like pop or indie, instead considering it “modern,” providing a different option to the folk songs that are more widely available for Inuktitut-speakers.“You have everything under the sun that’s in English,” she says. “I want that to be the case for Inuktitut content.” She is influenced by “strong Inuit women,” singers and performers like Elisapie, Susan Aglukark and Tanya Tagaq. In 2021 she adapted her award-winning song “Qaariaq” into the children’s book The Bee, which was published in both English and Inuktitut. Although “Qaariaq” and its accompanying book were for children, most of Han’s music is actually written for adults, acoustic songs with themes of life, love and struggles. 

Han’s successes as a songwriter have won her multiple awards at both the Nunavut Department of Culture and Heritage’s Qilaut Inuktut children’s songwriting contest (2016 and 2019) and at the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s Inuktitut song/poem contest (2018 and 2019). Han opened for Tagaq during her tour stop at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg in March 2017, and has performed at Alianait 2020 and the Telling Tales Festival in fall 2021, among other appearances. Han also works from home for the Canadian Red Cross, where she has been working on the Nipivut Youth Leadership Conference 2020–2021, coordinating and leading workshops on healthy lifestyles, Inuit culture and language and more for Nunavimmiut and Nunavut youth.

About Becky Han

Medium:

Literary Arts, Music

Artistic Community:

Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), NU

Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.

1988