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iviutijuq and hiphop in nursing ed

March 2, 2012

I asked colleagues in the Nunavut Teacher Education Programme (NTEP) about Inuit songwriting traditions, which students might be able to use as forms for exploring pharmacology.
Louise Flaherty suggested iviutijuq, duelling songs, or iviutiniq, the practice of duelling songs. In Inuit traditional justice, disputes could be settled by the people in conflict performing these songs. They would insult each other as specifically and humorously as possible, while the community watched and listened. The most convincing performer would win the case. You can see this in Zacharias Kunuk’s film, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), when two men are arguing over a woman.

Neil Christopher said that Mark Kalluak described iviutijuq, and other Inuit customs which could be adapted for the classroom, in an information package produced by the Baffin Divisional Board of Education a few years back. I couldn’t find this online, but a copy must be around the college somewhere.

So a student could write a duelling song between an antagonist drug and the cells or tissues it is affecting – or to describe drug-drug, drug-food, or drug-herb interactions. What fun!

There are also story songs, by which a symptom/disease/drug/other treatment could describe their journey together – or the person’s journey through their lens(es).

What about bragging songs? I asked. Could a drug say what it does in the body? Not in Inuit culture. “We were always discouraged from boasting,” said Louise.

This is where another oral tradition comes in. Hiphop is popular among Aboriginal youth on this continent, and hiphop has lots of room for bragging, so a medicine with pride could say exactly what it does best … and if another drug wanted to compete, a rhythmic duel could find a home there. Now how would you like that when you’re deciding on a medical treatment and not sure which way to go? If your doc or nurse busted out the verse, could that help you choose the tx that fits?

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