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Imagine eating raw seal, whale and arctic char, or trying some caribou stew. This March and April, students from Mississauga, Ontario and the small community of Taloyoak, Nunavut are currently participating in The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program. These students are spending a few days seeing how the other half lives.
Big city lights and tall buildings are a normal everyday landscape for most people in the city. To the Inuit students this is a completely different view from the Arctic tundra they call home. Visiting the CN Tower or going to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto are exciting adventures. The Taloyoak students will be touring Toronto, going to Niagara Falls, and staying at the homes of their city counterparts. Meanwhile, Paul Officer the principal at Riverside Public School, will be leading the Mississauga youth, while they experience the Inuit culture from eating traditional food, drumming, ice fishing, building an igloo, to perfecting the high kick during the Arctic games. This cultural exchange is not only about fun and games, but building special bonds that will last a lifetime. As a part of the Taloyoak exchange this year, the city youth will be learning what it means to be responsible Canadians. This will be done through literacy and environmental activities. Students will share favourite books, garden, and interact with elders at the senior centre.
The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program allows students who would not normally get the opportunity to explore another part of Canada, a chance to step out of the classroom, and learn through engagement with a new community. While open to all youth the YMCA program gives priority to students from underrepresented groups such as low-income families, those with disabilities, visible minorities, and First Nations students. Cost of travel to the respective communities is fully covered through a grant. Each community in turn relies on the
kindness of their communities to supply funding for food, local travel, and activities for participants.
Arctic Kingdom to help support this program, has equipped the Mississauga students with all the Arctic gear they need to survive the extreme weather conditions of the North. From toques, Canada Goose jackets and pants, to boots the students have the proper gear needed to stay dry and comfortable. To read more about the activities and the exchange please visit: Paul Officer’s blog.
Nunatsiaq online reports on a new show at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse in Montreal. Women of the Arctic is the first in a planned series of exhibitions and events to highlight works by Inuit artists from Nunavik and Nunavut.
The show opened Nov 19 to an audience eager to view the work and enjoy a throat-singing performance by Evie Mark and Taqralik Partridge. The show consists of works on paper in a range of techniques including painting, drawing, and printmaking.
Her narrative stone prints employ only a few colours but often many characters, like the 1972 “Morse surprenant les chasseurs” (walrus surprising the hunters) which shows a walrus emerge between two kayakers, with a flock of geese overhead.
The show is up until December 19 at Montreal’s La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse at 4296 St. Laurent Boulevard. If you’re in the area, take a moment to stop by and us know how it looks.
The documentary contains five Inuktitut dialects, recorded as its two directors followed Inuit elders to document their perspectives on global warming. While we read a great deal about climate change from a scientific point of view, this film provides a first-person perspective from the people most directly affected by the changes occurring.
From an examiner.com review by Cendrine Marrouat -
“Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change” is a remarkable piece of work that invites us to reconnect with ourselves and the world around us, as well as take responsibilities for our actions. As a result, it makes us better citizens of the world, citizens that cannot accept the status quo anymore.
The Edmonton Journal has published a very moving editorial written by Mr. Kunuk, discussing his motivations for this film and for becoming a film maker -
Besides stressing the key relationship people have with their environment, Inuit values recognize the importance of working together for a common purpose, avoiding conflict and finding consensus and, especially, what we call Qanuqtuurungnarniq, the concept of being resourceful, demonstrating adaptability and flexibility in response to a rapidly changing world.
Inuit approach climate change not only as a crisis, but as an opportunity to adapt, to find new techniques for living sustainably within the natural world. One after another, elders in our film tell us that hope lies in our capacity to be intelligent, resilient and well adapted to our environment.
Having survived and thrived through past climate changes, and the daily challenge of depending on weather and animals, Inuit experience tells us that the only constant is change itself, and adaptation is the key to a successful human future. To Inuit, climate change is a human rights issue — how people adapt to change and still respect the rights of others.
Isuma TV is a video hosting and distribution network representing Inuit and Indigenous multimedia. The organization is globally participatory and free to access. With over 2,000 films in 41 languages, they are accomplishing their goal to represent a huge range of communities and cultures. Their content covers a huge range of topics, from Inuit cultural knowledge, politics and climate change, spirituality, local news of all kinds, as well as videos created by students, musicians, and independent film makers.
IsumaTV is an independent interactive network of Inuit and Indigenous multimedia. IsumaTV uses the power and immediacy of the Web to bring people together to tell stories and support change.
Our tools enable Indigenous people to express reality in their own voices: views of the past, anxieties about the present and hopes for a more decent and honorable future. Our sincere goal is to assist people to listen to one another, to recognize and respect diverse ways of experiencing our world, and honor those differences as a human strength.
IsumaTV uses new networking technology to build a new era of communication and exchange among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities around the globe.
One huge technological issue in video and information distribution is a lack of availability of high-bandwidth internet in some areas. Isuma tackles this issue head on, offering low bandwidth access to their videos, and are continually working to expand their range into areas where internet access is less unavailable. In addition, they are working to digitize and distribute archived historical audio-visual materials, supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy.
I was intrigued by the article’s description of MaryAnn Sundown, whose dancing is apparently a highlight of the Cama-i festival each year.
Tiny, bow-legged and stooped, she waves hips and sways arms like a teen, her long wrinkled face flashing between deadpan suspense and wild laughter. . . [Her son,] Harley Sundown said diet’s a key factor in her spunk. She prefers raw fish, and the occasional soup.
“Nothing but Yup’ik food,” he said.
Harley, lead singer for the Scammon Bay Dancers, said she doesn’t think a whole lot about being honored as a Living Treasure.
She’s like most older Natives, who have “almost no pride or gloating of personal achievements.”
“She doesn’t think a whole lot of it, just like Michael Jordan would say it’s the team,” he said. “It’s not even a big part of her day.”
Here’s a video from the 2007 Cama-i festival (found via the Bethel Arts website).
It seemed here, more than any other place yet on the tour, that the young outnumbered the old, the young like the tiny babies snuggled in pouches on the backs of their mothers, tucked warmly into handsewn traditional Inuit “amouts,” the mid-length coats that are part dress and part parka made of light colourful fabric trimmed with wolverine fur.
The young like the dozens of toddlers, in tasselled moccasins and huge parkas and snow boots, hollering and racing around the rec centre’s main hall, paper gold medals dangling from strings around their necks, waving flags, tugging at Olympic mascots Quatchi and Miga and filling their pockets with souvenir pins from Vanoc officials and Olympic sponsors.
The Canadian government has decided to approve Nunavut’s proposal to declare Inuktitut, English and French its official languages, reports The Globe and Mail.
The territory’s Official Languages Act was passed by Nunavut’s politicians last June, but it needed final approval from the federal government before it could become law. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, I read an interesting article from the Toronto star about new techniques being used to track the affects of hunting and global climate change on Canada’s polar bear population. In the past, scientists have relied on population surveys that involve tracking bears by air and tranquilizing them. Because of the expense inherent in these sorts of studies — more than $2 million per region, over Canada’s thirteen regions — such surveys can only be conducted every thirteen years or so. Read the rest of this entry »