Dozens of musicians from across the North are in Kuujjuaq, Que. for the 19th annual Aqpik Jam music festival named for the beloved local wild berries called aqpik in Inuktitut.

A showcase for Inuktitut-speaking talent, the festival attracts artists from Nunavut, Nunavik and Greenland.

Twenty-year-old Calvin Pameolik of Arviat, Nunavut kicked off one of the first performances at the Katittavik Town Hall and Cultural Centre, a 500-seat venue that opened in 2002. 

“It's been a long ride because there's so many flights you've got to take,” he says, “but it always pays off in the end.”

He says this performance is bittersweet. This fall, he’ll leave the North, swapping his touring schedule for university textbooks.

Niivi Sinuupa at Aqpik Jam

Local talent show winner Niivi Sinuupa kicks off Aqpik Jam. (Shaun Malley/CBC)

“I’m gonna miss it. I love the North,” he says.

Montreal-born, Nunavik-raised Jaaji Okpik is also performing.

“Music brings everybody together,” he says. “Whether you're down or you're up, music is there. That's what matters."

Kuujjuaq Mayor Tunu Napartuk says big festivals like this are about more than boosting the local economy.

“It’s just a great big moment for Kuujjuaq to invite as many people as we can, and take in as many people as we can,” he says.

Napartuk says he’ll try to savour the experience.  

“It took a lot of energy for me not to think about next year because it's going to be the 20th edition,” he says. “We're extremely excited about it and we want to make big plans.

“But we're concentrating on 2014 right now.”

The festival runs for four nights.