Susan Aglukark, O.C.
Founder & Program Developer
Throughout an illustrious career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Susan Aglukark’s journey as a singer-songwriter has led her to reflect on who she is, where she comes from and the importance of discovery – discovery of history, culture and self.
Born in Arviat, Nunavut, Susan’s list of career achievements is notable in breadth and scope. In 1995, she became the first Inuk performer to have a Top 10 hit when her single “O Siem” from the album This Child reached No. 1 on the Canadian country and adult contemporary charts. The same year, she also became the first Inuk performer to win a JUNO Award, winning for ‘Best New Solo Artist’ and ‘Best Music of Aboriginal Canada Recording’ for her album Arctic Rose. The recipient of a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2016), she is also an Officer of the Order of Canada (2005), holds several Honourary Doctorate degrees, and has held command performances for several international dignitaries, including HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney, and former South African President Nelson Mandela, among others.
Through her music, Susan continues to share her experiences as an Inuk growing up in Nunavut, as well as the structural inequities and barriers faced by Northern communities and Indigenous youth. Dedicated to improving lives in Inuit and Indigenous communities, she began the Arctic Rose Project in 2012 to help address hunger, homelessness and the health and wellness of Inuit children and youth. After receiving charitable status in 2016, the project grew into the Arctic Rose Foundation, and its mandate expanded to support Northern Inuit, First Nations and Métis youth, promote emotional and mental wellness, and connect participants with their culture through intentional and adaptable arts-based programming. Through these programs and partnerships, youth are given a safe space, an emotional outlet, and access to Indigenous leaders, role models, employment opportunities and mentorship to help them deal with the existing structural inequities and barriers that are faced in the North.
Art played a significant role in Susan’s own healing journey from struggles with self-identity, and she strongly believes it plays an important role for Inuit and Indigenous youth who are dealing with identity issues today. She has seen first-hand what happens when Inuit and Indigenous youth make cultural connections with the stories that offer a glimpse of the extraordinary people from which they descend, and credits the concept of “Kisiani” – an Inuktitut word which refers to our responsibility to do what needs to be done because it must be done; and our belief that if we can help someone, then we must – as one of her reasons for starting the Arctic Rose Foundation.
The Arctic Rose Foundation officially incorporated in 2020, and today operates in three communities in Nunavut.
200 North Service Road West, Unit 1, Suite 355, Oakville, ON, L6M 2Y1
The Arctic Rose Foundation is a charitable organization that grew out of the Arctic Rose Project, started by Inuk singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark in 2012. Officially designated as a registered charity in 2016, and incorporated in 2020, the Arctic Rose Foundation works to support Northern Inuit, First Nations and Métis youth through the creation of Indigenous-led, arts-based after school programs, and other engaging cultural and creative projects.