Originally hailing from Nunavik, Montreal-based singer-songwriter Beatrice Deer now has five albums under her belt, each one deepening her trademark blend of traditional Inuit throat singing with contemporary indie rock (Deer pioneered the Inuindie music genre). Singing in Inuktitut, English, and French, her themes range from classical Inuit folk tales and legends to the importance of finding understanding and the search for meaning within personal growth.
Deer will perform on Friday, June 21 as part of the Indigenous Arts Festival taking place this week at Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Blvd). We caught up with her this week.
SDTC: Describe your dream vacation/getaway scenario:
BD: My dream vacation is going camping and caribou hunting near my hometown of Quaqtaq in early summer, where the weather is perfect and there are no mosquitos!
Who/what is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?
My job as director of television production is pretty demanding at the moment since it requires me to go on pretty awesome production trips in Nunavik and make future production plans (synopsis, budgets, etc.).
What have you learned about yourself in the past year?
That I can travel alone internationally.
What is a fun little-known fact about you?
Um. I play ukulele?
What book/film/show have you connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?
I read a book called Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who’s dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children in America. Reading the book made me realize even more to fight for what we believe in, to help and fight for those who can’t do it for themselves. That consistency and perseverance in demanding change for the better pays off. It also talks about how it just feels right when you’re working with your purpose. Very inspiring.
What’s the worst piece of career/life advice you’ve been given?
That we are born without talent. That art is just copying what other people do and that it doesn’t actually come from within you.
What is your motto at the moment?
One thing at a time.
Any goals/plans for the summer?
I’m going on a fishing trip to the world’s best fishing spot on the Payne River with my boyfriend and going on a family cruise in the Greek Isles, as I’ll be a bridesmaid at a wonderful friend’s wedding. It’ll be the first real family vacation for me and my two teens. Very exciting.
What are the qualities you like least and most about your parents?
Least would be that they have too much stuff in and around the house. They know I can’t stand it.
Best quality is that they’re a great example of a loving couple with good morals who support each other in every way.
Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?
Spend more time with your teenagers.
What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
Admit to being abused, get help for it, denounce my childhood sexual abuser and practice forgiving.
What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?
I was into Barbies a lot when I was a child. I had like sixty barbies. I must have been eight or nine when I was playing Barbie at my house with a girl a little older than myself. I had Ken dolls too. So, as we were playing, she was pretending to date Mario Lemieux. It was during the peak Penguin years in the NHL in 91-92. Winning the Cup and all. Then she pretended to cheat on him with Jaromir Jagr. That’s when I learned what cheating meant.
What unnecessary object would you love to own?
An expensive piece of Inuit sculpture.
What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?
Getting a sweeping robot!
What issue do you wish people took more seriously?
Our governments need to end systemic violence against Indigenous people of Canada (poor living conditions, lack of health services, and so on). Enough already. We’re in 2019. Mean what you say, say what you mean.
What outfit makes you feel the most you?
When I wear what I’ve made. Winter parkas, sealskin boots and mitts.
Who/what has surprised you lately, and how?
My teenage son, who seemed to mature in a matter of a couple of months! Asking him to do something used to be like pulling teeth, but now he just does it without a problem. I’m shook. LOL.