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A Cultural Exchange: Young Canadians Experience Life in the Arctic and the Big City!

March 28th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, Community News, Current Events, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

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.

Inuit Women's Art Exhibition In Montreal

December 3rd, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

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.
Some of the oldest prints exhibited at La Centrale gallery are those of the late Leah Nuvalinga Qumaluk, the well-known Puvirnituq printmaker, who passed away last August. Her work has been shown in New York, Paris and in a number of Canadian collections. Qumaluk created hundreds of prints since the early 1970s, including the eight exhibited. 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. In another, “Attente de retour des traineaux,” 1978 (waiting for the sleds to return) a group of four, hooded women’s faces seem to peer out of a blizzard.
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.

Director Zacharias Kunuk's Latest Film

November 15th, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

Zacharias Kunuk, Inuit producer and director of 'Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner', recently premiered a new feature film, a documentary titled 'Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change'. YouTube Preview Image 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 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.
'Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change' can be screened online, as well as downloaded from Isuma TV. – Representing Inuit and Indigenous Filmmaking

October 7th, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art, TECHNOLOGY, Uncategorized

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. From their Mission Statement -
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.

MaryAnn Sundown to be Honored at Cama-i Dance Festival

March 26th, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, Inuit Culture/Art

Photo of MaryAnn Sundown by Christopher Pike.

Tonight, I ran across an article about MaryAnn Sundown, a Yup'ik woman in her nineties who will be honored with a 'living-treasure' award at this year's Cama-i Dance Festival in Bethel, Alaska. 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). Read more: The Tundra Drums - Delta Diva to receive 'living treasure' award.

The Olympic Torch Reaches Nunavut

November 9th, 2009 | By | Filed in Community News, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, INUIT

The Vancouver Sun has an article today chronicling the Olympic torch's journey into the frozen North. Columnist Shelley Fralic notes that, in the dark and cold above the Arctic Circle, the promise of Canada's youth shines forth:
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.
via Day 7: The Olympic torch in the Great White North, where the youth shine bright .

New Law Protects Inuktitut

July 28th, 2009 | By | Filed in Community News, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, INUIT

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 »

Bear Facts: Tracking Polar Bears

June 16th, 2009 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals, Community News, Conservation, Global Warming, INUIT, SCIENCE

Over the next few weeks, I'll be looking at polar bears in honor of this summer's bear-centered expedition to Coats Island. 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 »
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