Songs of Labrador is a cultural gold mine. It not only records over one hundred
songs, but also includes background notes, assorted local lore, personal
stories, and numerous black-and-white photographs and sketches.
The songs were compiled over a ten-year period by Tim Borlase, a music and
arts coordinator with the Labrador East Integrated School Board, and reflect
many aspects of life in this region--the land, the people, the life of
children, the animals, trapping, fishing, hard times, songs of faith, and
ballads. Some songs describe social change or highlight problems such as land
claims. Some songs are given in Inuktitut and Innu-Amin, and in these cases
English translations are provided.
The compiler travelled throughout the area and, with the help of others
associated with this project, gathered (often, "at... kitchen tables") a wide
variety of songs, most of which were unknown outside their own communities. In
one case, one song was saved from extinction when the last surviving individual
who knew it contributed it to the collection. Tim Borlase is meticulous
throughout in giving acknowledegment to all authors, contributors and
All of the pieces except one have melodies only, but also include chords. The
exception is a version of "Tishialuk Girls" (arranged by distinguished Canadian
composer Nancy Telfer), which has a three-part vocal score and full piano
version. The music is hand-written and is generally quite clear, with the
possible exception of the song just mentioned because in that case so much
notation is jammed together on each page. Interestingly, two Innu lullabies are
given with unusual musical notation since they were sung before western
notation came to Labrador.