From New Mom to New Song: Becky Han’s Musical Journey
“Just a new mom trying to figure out who I'm supposed to be as a person besides being a mom." That’s how singer, songwriter and musician Becky Han describes the beginning of her musical journey. Her journey as a person started geographically a lot further North. Han grew up in Arctic Bay and now resides on Treaty 6 territory, in what is known as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She moved to Saskatoon because of her husbands work, ready for change and new adventure and to give her kids new opportunities she never had growing up.
Han became a musician unintentionally. She always liked singing, growing up in church. Nevertheless, she was and still describes herself as shy, though now she can go on stage, sing and tell jokes. She started singing for her mental health as a brand new stay at home mom, far from her home territory in a province where she hadn't made many friends yet.
Homesick and adjusting to her new life, she started writing and was gifted a guitar for Christmas. She taught herself to play it with Youtube and google, learning the basic chords. She started putting her Inuktitut stories paired with music on social media. They were popular with her fellow Inuit and with music lovers that wanted to hear more.
Getting over her shyness was hard process for Han; she described it as painful and torturous. “With practice, you just have to do it and each day it gets a little easier or maybe you just get a little more familiar with it. You have an idea of what to do going into it and going through it,” she explained.
Rehearsing in her head, giving herself positive pep talks, mentally preparing herself to go up were tricks Han used to get over her stage fright. “I can't just wake up and go on stage. It takes time for me to center myself and breathe through it. But once I go up there, I blank and then I'm walking off and sometimes I'm like, what did I say? I hope that went well,” Han shared.
Mostly Han made music from home online before COVID but she was offered a few opportunities through the government of Nunavut to fly to Iqualuit with her music. She went back to her hometown in 2018 to do a music workshop. “That was a really neat experience where I just came full circle where it all started and then having to go back as this official workshop facilitator, and teach the kids the basics of songwriting,” she remembered.
More recently, Han hasn’t been travelling and has slowed down posting her music because of her new job with the Canadian Red Cross. “I still write, I still play at home. It's just been a little slower,” she smiled. As an associate in community programming, Han translates, reaches out to community members, organizes the youth leadership conference, and working with the youth of Nunavut. She describes the partnership as “beautiful” and that settling into her new role has been natural.
Another beautiful partnership Han has explored has been with TakingITGlobal’s Connected North. A teacher from Arctic Bay recommended she look into the program, which she had never heard of. She said she would look into it and eventually she was connecting with Indigenous students in schools across Canada, having just celebrated 30 sessions.
Her own school experience was in a K to 12 school as one of only 200 students in the whole school. She finished high school there and moved South to see what else was out there and spread her wings. She made her way to Manitoba and became a mom. “Thankfully, I found music and that really helped my confidence and to learn about who I am, who I'm becoming, and who I can be,” she beamed.
Han is inspired by her family, the strength that her kids have and her husband’s faith in her. She describes him as someone who she can lean on who helps her grow as a person. She’s also inspired by her life experiences, life growing up back home, and what it feels like being away from home.
She had thoughtful advice for students who might be thinking about leaving home to go learn abroad or travel. “Just be open to learning, be ready for mistakes and it's so okay to make those mistakes. Don't be too hard on yourself, it’s so easy to be hard on yourself and to beat yourself up. But honestly, we're all out here learning. No one knows what they're doing. It's okay,” she counselled.
Making it up as she goes is a valuable skill for a singer, songwriter and musician. After giving birth to her kids, Han gave birth to a new career and identity. She started off “Just a new mom trying to figure out who [she’s] supposed to be as a person besides being a mom,” and she found a whole new way to contribute to her home territory, even while she’s far away… and that’s something to sing about.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.