CBC Nunavut broadcaster hangs up her headphones after 2 decades on the air

Aseena Mablick first joined CBC North in 1996 for a two-week training gig. She ended up staying for two decades, becoming well-known as host as the host of the Inuit-language afternoon show, Tausunni.

Aseena Mablick has been a champion of Inuktitutlataaq, the language of the elders

Aseena Mablick poses in an Iqaluit recording studio in this undated photo. She retired from CBC North Friday after two decades on air, mostly as host of the Inuit-language program, Tausunni. (CBC)

Aseena Mablick first joined CBC North in 1996 for a two-week training gig.

She retired on Friday, after more than two decades as an interviewer and host based in Iqaluit. 

"Two weeks became long, long years," she said, laughing. 

Mablick got her start recording meetings and doing interviews. She first got on the air as a backup host for Moses Attagoyuk. When he retired, around 2002, she took the helm of the popular Inuit-language afternoon show, Tausunni. 

The show was founded by the late Jonah Kelly and former Nunavut Commissioner Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, Mablick recalls. It became a place where people could hear old time stories from elders as well as explorations of current events. 

Aseena Mablick and Joanna Awa in the CBC Nunavut station. Awa also left CBC again last Friday, following a year-long return as the host of Igalaaq. (CBC)

Tausunni means, roughly, "the smell of human." 

It's the term used by animals in Inuit legends, Mablick said. 

"Whenever they smell human beings nearby, in legend stories, they call humans 'tau,'" she said, meaning "dark." "I don't know why, maybe from something they smell from us."

The suffix "-sunni" translates roughly to "smells like."

Mablick said the show founders deliberately picked the name so the show would be stamped with the legends. 

"They wanted to keeping that traditional cultural way of living. Anything physical, spiritual, emotional and [for] survival out on the land." 

An Inuktitutlataaq champion

Broadcasting for an hour and a half every weekday in Inuktitut, Mablick is being remembered as someone who contributed a lot to the Inuit language, and in particular, Inuktitutlataaq, the language used by elders.

Even as a child, Mablick said, she had questions for her elders. Working on the show for so long was a chance to pose questions directly to elders herself. 

"When you start working for CBC, you become a good interviewer," she said. 

Mablick also remembered many emotional moments and said there'd been many times she was thankful she worked in radio and not television when a story caused her to tear up. 

Mablick wrapped up her career as a host with a phone-in show Friday where callers wished her well. 

She also noted some well-wishes on Facebook, including one from a listener in northern Quebec. 

"He was saying I am still too young to quit," Mablick said, noting he's just one of many people who only know her as a voice on the air.

Now that she's retired, she plans to spend some timing on sewing and pattern-making projects that have been piling up over the years. 

She said she'll remember her career fondly as one that was challenging and interesting. 

"If you love it, it's enjoyable."

With files from Salome Avva