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Tanya Tagaq brings inspiring lecture and performance to the Regent Theatre stage

The first time Tanya Tagaq heard throat singing, she says she could hear her land through the sounds as if each note conjured up a memory. On October 30 an audience was treated to these sounds when Tanya took the stage at the Regent Theatre in downtown Oshawa, Ontario for this year's Faculty of Social Science and Humanities (FSSH) Dean's Lecture, entitled Songs and Stories of Revolution

Since her debut album Sinaa was released back in 2005, Tanya has cemented herself as one of the country's most original and celebrated artists. Her debut novel Split Tooth, released in September 2018, was also met with widespread critical acclaim. The book, an intricate blend of memoir, poetry and fiction, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award before taking home the Indigenous Voices Award in English Prose in 2019. 

Considering the improvisational nature of Tanya's appearances, audiences were not sure what to expect. What ensued was nothing short of transfixing: stories told about growing up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, her time in the residential school system, as well as her devotion to protecting Inuit culture and traditions. She read from her novel and performed an improvised song that sent vibrations through the Regent Theatre. 

"Tanya transformed what a public lecture could be by delivering it barefoot and cross-legged, and when she related secrets that were meant to stay in the room, she in effect forged an intimacy with 600 people at once," notes event organizer Jen Rinaldi, PhD, Assistant Professor, FSSH. "She described how she heard her land the first time she listened to throat singing, as if it were a memory. Then she put her whole body into a performance and it was startling, joyous, sensuous, and so moving she sparked a well-deserved standing ovation."