Nfld. & Labrador

Folk duo Twin Flames stranded in Rigolet, cancels part of Labrador tour

Ottawa based folk duo Twin Flames enjoys extended stay in Rigolet because of the runway closure at Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Musicians spend their extended visit in Rigolet enjoying local entertainment and food

Ottawa-based folk duo Twin Flames is enjoying its extended stay in Rigolet. They are unable to travel to the other stops on their tour because of the runway closure at the Goose Bay airport. (Submitted)

Ottawa-based folk duo Twin Flames were on stage in Rigolet Tuesday night, but couldn't make all of their Labrador shows.

Chelsey June and Jaaji  — who just started a tour in Labrador — got stuck in Rigolet because of the runway closure at the airport in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"We really were looking forward to this tour … It's really near and dear to our hearts, and we know so many people are looking forward to this," said June. "Just to have that much love and support, it's really hard to let people down."

Unable to find a way out of Rigolet, they had to cancel their shows scheduled in Postville and Hopedale.

But after catching the Northern Ranger in Rigolet Thursday evening, they said they will be in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for their show scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11.

"We were joking around and putting Facebook posts like, 'Does anyone have a helicopter, ya know, or a boat? And they can take us to the next villages?'" said June.

Ottawa-based musicians Chelsey June and Jaaji were on stage in Rigolet on Tuesday night. (Submitted)

Getting to know 'beautiful people'

Jaaji, an Inuk Mohawk from Nunavik, and June, an Algonquin Cree Métis from Ottawa, perform in English, French and Inuktitut and use Western and Indigenous instruments in their songs.

When on tour throughout Canada, they often turn down invitations into homes and to community events because of tight schedules. The unplanned extended visit in Rigolet has given them the opportunity to explore the area and spend time with locals.

"It's a beautiful place surrounded by beautiful people," said Jaaji.

"We were taken in by Derek Pottle and his wife and he fed us some muktuk and some smoked char and some raw moose, which I'd never tried."

The two were treated with a special performance by local singers and drum dancers in Rigolet, which was an emotional experience for June. 

Twin Flames with some of the Rigolet performers at a concert on Wednesday. (Submitted)

"I had tears in my eyes watching those girls drum dancing with so much passion," she said.

"I had so much pride in my heart and so much hope for our futures as Indigenous and Inuit people, knowing that the people are reclaiming their identities and their cultures and sharing it like that. It's just so beautiful."

Jaaji and June plan to attend a community bonfire Thursday evening.

Personal connections to Labrador

This marks the second time the two have visited Labrador, and they both feel a special connection because of ancestral ties to the area.

"I'm a Métis descent and a lot of my family worked for the Hudson's Bay Company, and so just visiting the old heritage buildings as well has been extremely inspiring," said June.

"You can feel the history there and the fact that my ancestors have walked here."

Jaaji is also using the time in Rigolet to reflect on his ancestral connections to Labrador.

"To be in the areas that our families may have been in the past, it was something really neat," he said.

Canadian Folk Awards performance

Although they "feel right at home" while in Labrador, extending their trip is not an option, as Jaaji and June are scheduled to perform at the Canadian Folk Awards in Ottawa on Nov. 18.

Twin Flames is nominated for three Canadian Folk Awards, including vocal group of the year, Aboriginal songwriter of the year and world group of the year. In 2016, the duo won the award for Aboriginal songwriter of the year.

Twin Flames have put some dates on hold for their Labrador tour because of the runway closure at the Goose Bay airport. (Submitted)


Caroline Hillier is the producer of the St. John's Morning Show.