Meet the Inuk TV Host and Musician Who’s Bringing Change to Her Community

Rita Claire Mike-Murphy, AKA Riit, on how she made it happen

(Photo: Bettina Bogar)
(Photo: Bettina Bogar)

Name: Rita Claire Mike-Murphy, AKA Riit

Job title: Musician and host of the children’s TV show Anaana’s Tent

Age: 23

From: Panniqtuuq (a.k.a. Pangnirtung), Nunavut  

Currently lives in: Clyde River, Nunavut

Education: Certificates in Inuit studies and advanced Inuit studies from Nunavut Sivuniksavut (which is affiliated with Algonquin College and Carleton University)

First job out of school: Host of Anaana’s Tent at Taqqut Productions

Rita Claire Mike-Murphy realized early on that a desk job just wasn’t going to cut it for her. It was while she was on summer break from studying in the post-secondary Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa and working for the Government of Nunavut. “I found it so boring—like, I could not stand sitting in front of a computer from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she says. “That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue something that would have a real impact on the younger generation and the youth of Nunavut.”

Mike-Murphy grew up in Panniqtuuq, Nunavut, a small community where the majority of households speak Inuktitut, and she rarely saw herself or her language reflected in the music or television industry. Now she is determined to change that for the next generation. Mike-Murphy’s educational program, Anaana’s Tent, airs in both Inuktitut and English and teaches children about the Inuktitut language and Inuit culture. This year, Mike-Murphy will also release her first full-length album—which, aside from one verse sung by a guest vocalist, is entirely in Inuktitut.

“It’s my mother tongue—I feel most comfortable singing and speaking and writing in Inuktitut,” she says, noting that with the use of Inuit languages being in decline, one of her goals is to bring Inuktitut to a larger audience. She credits Iqaluit-based band the Jerry Cans—who started Aakuluk Music, Nunavut’s first record label—with breaking down barriers for Inuit artists like her. “I’ve seen how much work the Jerry Cans had to put into trying to make it in Canada—to be known all over Canada and not just Nunavut,” she says. “I’ve seen how hard they’ve hustled to get to where they are now. I feel like I’ve been very lucky and blessed that they went through that so, in a way, they can make sure that the artists who are under their label don’t have to go through it too.”

That said, it hasn’t been an easy road. For Mike-Murphy, who is now signed with Six Shooter Records, one of the biggest challenges she faced was internal. “I always had such high anxiety about putting my music out there and showing the world what my music is about,” she says. On her upcoming record, there are multiple songs that deal with incredibly personal experiences of abuse and trauma. Mike-Murphy was anxious about being so public and sharing the meaning behind her music with the world, but that didn’t stop her. “Being able to be my own self without worrying about what anybody will think is the biggest challenge that I have overcome.”

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