Nain mourns the loss of well-re­spected mu­si­cian, teacher and friend

Kar­rie Obed touched a lot of lives


Un­for­tu­nately, it was time to say good­bye.

Kar­rie Obed died at the Labrador Gren­fell Health Cen­tre in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay on Sept. 9 af­ter a bat­tle with cancer. He was 57 years old.

Dar­lene Hol­well is a for­mer stu­dent at Jens Haven Me­mo­rial School where Obed taught. Hol­well now teaches Grade One at the school.

“I’ve known Kar­rie ‘Mis­ter’ all my life. He was my cousin, a teacher in our school, a choir mem­ber, a brass band player but most of all, my friend,” she said via e-mail.

Hol­well said she will re­mem­ber Obed for his com­pas­sion for mu­sic, the Inuk­ti­tut lan­guage, and the re­vival of the brass band.

Hol­well said she’s thank­ful to peo­ple in Nain, par­tic­u­larly Joan Dicker and Kristie Hol­well, who helped with and sup­ported fundrais­ers for Obed’s fam­ily dur­ing his illness.

“Nain mem­bers do­nated food, money and their time to help Mis­ter’s fam­ily go to see him in their time of need. A fundraiser held by a lo­cal band named The Bear­dos also raised money on his be­half. Three­quar­ters of The Bear­dos are teach­ers where Mis­ter taught,” she said.

Tom Gor­don, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus with Me­mo­rial Univer­sity’s School of Mu­sic, knew Obed for about 15 years and worked with him closely over the past seven years.

Gor­don worked closely with Obed on a Na­tional Film Board film called “Till We Meet Again: Mo­ra­vian Mu­sic in Labrador.”

A won­der­ful tra­di­tion bearer, Gor­don said, Obed is fea­tured promi­nently in the film.

Gor­don said Obed was “a shy man with the sweet­est per­son­al­ity.”

While not a trained voice, he said, Obed’s voice had tremen­dous power.

“Kar­rie had the most beau­ti­ful, nat­u­ral voice that I’ve ever heard in my life... No mat­ter what he was singing or how he was singing it, his voice went straight to your heart. It had an emo­tional in­ten­sity to it that was un­like any­thing I’ve ever heard,” Gor­don said dur­ing a re­cent phone in­ter­view.

Gor­don pro­duced “Pil­lorikput Inuit: Inuk­ti­tut Arias for All Sea­sons,” which means “Blessed are the Peo­ple.”

The col­lec­tion of Mo­ra­vian mu­sic from the 18th and 19th cen­tury fea­tures Obed and Dean­tha Ed­munds. The al­bum earned an East Coast Mu­sic Award nom­i­na­tion.

In re­mem­ber­ing his friend, Gor­don re­called how Obed trav­elled to Ger­many in 2015 to per­form with the Nain Brass Band at a Mo­ra­vian Brass Band Fes­ti­val. Dur­ing the trip, Obed was in­vited to sing at a Mo­ra­vian church.

“He sang some Mo­ra­vian hymns there for an au­di­ence of about 1,000 peo­ple. He was ac­com­pa­nied only by a trum­pet. It was ab­so­lutely mes­mer­iz­ing,” Gor­don said.

Obed’s per­for­mance led to an “in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful and spir­i­tual” al­bum of trum­pet hymns, Gor­don said.

Ac­cord­ing to Gor­don, brass bands have been part of daily life in Mo­ra­vian Inuit vil­lages for over a cen­tury. Obed and oth­ers in the com­mu­nity were in­stru­men­tal in form­ing a brass band in Nain about five years ago, he said.

“Kar­rie was part of a group that worked hard to re­vive the brass band.”

Gor­don will con­tinue to hold on to his mem­o­ries of his friend and ta­lented mu­si­cian.

“When we were pre­par­ing the first record­ing, we would get to­gether in the mu­sic room at the school. We would re­hearse to­gether. I felt so priv­i­leged to be alone in a room with that won­der­ful voice and that won­der­ful per­son. And I find my­self, in the last few weeks, go­ing back to those mo­ments.”

See­ing Obed per­form to an au­di­ence of 800 peo­ple in St. John’s is also a mem­ory Gor­don won’t soon for­get.

“He sang with his whole heart and shared his tra­di­tions with an au­di­ence who oth­er­wise never would have come in con­tact with him. I saw how proud he was. I was very happy to have wit­nessed this,” Gor­don said.

Obed is pre­de­ceased by his wife Clara Judy Sabina Obed (Tuglav­ina). He leaves be­hind his daugh­ter, Lisetta Obed; sons, Thomas Tuglav­ina and Sa­muel Tuglav­ina; and grand­sons, Chris­tian Obed and Isaac Abel.

“He was the gen­tlest soul but also some­body who had a tremen­dous impact in his com­mu­nity. He will be greatly, greatly missed,” Gor­don said.

Dona­tions to Obed’s fam­ily can be made by con­tact­ing Hol­well at dar­lene­josephine@ hot­


Kar­rie Obed in the Bell Tower of the Nain Mo­ra­vian Church. Sub­mit­ted photo of Kar­rie Obed

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