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Inuk rapper writes music to address suicide epidemic in Iqaluit

FXCKMR, born MisterLee Cloutier-Ellsworth, is an up-and-coming rapper from Iqaluit, Nunavut who is not scared of exploring difficult topics in his music.

FXCKMR is an Iqaluit based rapper. (Andrew Alba/CBC)

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FXCKMR, born MisterLee Cloutier-Ellsworth, is an up-and-coming rapper from Iqaluit, Nunavut who is not scared of exploring difficult topics in his music.

On his upcoming album, the topic of suicide appears throughout most of the songs — it’s an epidemic that FXCKMR continues to deal with living in Iqaluit.

“Amongst seeing suicide happen throughout my life, amongst the other people I’ve seen who talked to me about being suicidal, I’ve definitely felt at times … very suicidal,” he said.

“There’s stresses that build up, there’s some days where I’m really just tired of everything … and even writing music doesn’t help anymore.”

For FXCKMR, life in Iqaluit can be difficult, and there are triggers that lead to suicidal thoughts.

“There’s not many things to turn to in this city to distract yourself or find a way to overcome. All the stresses that build up,” said FXCKMR​​​​​​​.  

“There’s a lot of substance abuse that goes on in this town, and the isolation of it all just really gets to people, it freaks them out and they don’t know how to deal with all that energy.”

Early in his career of writing hip hop music, FXCKMR said he would receive the most attention for songs that touched on the difficult topics impacting those living in Iqaluit — from suicide, to job insecurity, to food insecurity, no topic was off limits.

“I knew I definitely wanted to make songs to be there for people at four in the morning when they’re drunk, and not feeling good. Or for people that wake up super early and they’re just not ready for the day, they just need a song or two to feel like they have someone to relate to and continue with their day.”

But among the songs that touch on heavy topics, FXCKMR also writes songs meant to empower his listeners.

“This [album] talks a lot about substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, but also [I’m] just trying to be excited about myself too,” said FXCKMR.

“There’s some tracks where it is boosting about myself, it’s my confidence, it’s talking about how I feel beautiful.”

Despite seeing first hand the isolation, substance abuse and suicide in Iqaluit, FXCKMR is hopeful that new arts initiatives are creating new paths for the youth in the community.

“For younger kids it’s exciting to see someone who is pushing boundaries and going out of his way to make a voice for all that’s going on,” said FXCKMR.

“After all that’s going on, all the art that’s building up in Nunavut — from The Grizzlies movie, the new Qaggiavuut theatre … [it’s] really changing the future for the kids, and I think we can make a much more exciting life for them.”


If you’re Indigenous and experiencing emotional distress, call the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310.

For help in Inuktitut, you can call the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line at 1-867-979-3333 or, toll-free from Nunavik or Nunavut, at 1-800-265-3333.

Anyone in a crisis can call 1-833-456-4566, available 24/7, or visit Crisis Services Canada for text or chat options.

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