The past echoes loudly in Elisapie's art. She made an early mark with her 2003 National Film Board documentary, If the Weather Permits, a bracing exploration of her connections to the culture of the Canadian north. As a songwriter, she is still wrestling with those same questions. The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, her Polaris Prize-shortlisted 2018 album, is another attempt at reconnection, sharing stories from her life through hypnotic arrangements that blend indigenous tradition with 70s folk-rock and experimental flourishes.
Her journey has been a complicated one. Given up for adoption on the tarmac of an airport, she grew up in Salluit, the second-most-northern Inuit community in Quebec. Dreaming of escape, she eventually found her way to Montreal, building a new life far removed from her traditional home. But escape isn't so simple, and Elisapie came to realize the North was, and remains, at the heart of her world.
Biography by Peter Hemminger