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We’re celebrating Nunavut Day – July 9 to mark 1993’s Nunavut Land Claims Agreement – with six books from Inuit writers.
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A sweet, beautiful book for children depicting the transformative dreams envisioned by a young Inuk girl, with the help of her loving mother.
In Bedtime in Nunatsiavut, a little girl named Nya yearns to fly, swim, and wander like the goose, salmon, bear, fox, and other animals that populate her world. Each night, her loving Ananak (mother) tucks her into bed and gives her a kunik (nose-to-nose rub) to help Nya dream and transform into the animals she longs to be like.
In Nya’s dreams, she moves with the wonder and the freedom of the natural world, dancing beneath the dark Nunatsiavut skies, empowered and emboldened by her Ananak’s constant love. Written and illustrated by first-time author Raeann Brown, Bedtime in Nunatsiavut is a beautiful and joyful tribute to an Inuit childhood.
Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit Identity examines Dunning’s lived history as an Inuk who was born, raised and continues to live south of sixty. Her writing takes into account the many assimilative practices that Inuit continue to face and the expectations of mainstream as to what an Inuk person can and should be. Her words examine what it is like to feel the constant rejection of her work from non-Inuit people and how we must all in some way find the spirit to carry through with what we hold to be true demonstrating the importance of standing tall and close to our words as Indigenous Canadians. We are the guardians of our work regardless of the cost to ourselves as artists and as Inuit people, we matter.
In Inuit mythology, “sila” means air, climate, or breath. Bilodeau’s play of the same name examines the competing interests shaping the future of the Canadian Arctic and local Inuit population. Equal parts Inuit myth and contemporary Arctic policy, the play Sila features puppetry, spoken word poetry, and three different languages (English, French, and Inuktitut).
There is more afoot in the Arctic than one might think. On Baffin Island in the territory of Nunavut, eight characters – including a climatologist, an Inuit activist and her son, and two polar bears – find their values challenged as they grapple with a rapidly changing environment and world. Sila captures the fragility of life and the interconnectedness of lives, both human and animal, and reveals in gleaming tones that telling the stories of everyday challenges – especially raising children and maintaining family ties – is always more powerful than reciting facts
Our changing climate will have a significant impact on how we organize ourselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Arctic, where warming temperatures are displacing entire ecosystems. The Arctic Cycle – eight plays that examine the impact of climate change on the eight countries of the Arctic – poignantly addresses this issue. Sila is the first play of The Arctic Cycle. With its large-as-life polar bear puppets, the play is evocative and mesmerizing, beautifully blurring the boundaries between folklore and science.
Two generations of Inuit artists challenging the parameters of tradition.
Kenojuak Ashevak shot to fame in 1970 when Canada Post printed The Enchanted Owl, a print of a black-and-red plumed nocturnal bird, on a postage stamp. She later became known as the magic-marker-wielding “grandmother of Inuit art,” famous for her fluid graphic storytelling and her stunning depictions of wildlife. She was a defining figure in Inuit art and one of the first Indigenous artists to be embraced as a contemporary Canadian artist.
Ashevak’s legacy inspired her nephew, Timootee (Tim) Pitsiulak, to take up drawing at the Kinngait Studios. In his relatively short career, he became a popular figure, known for drawing animal figures with a hunter’s precision and capturing the technological presence of the South in Nunavut.
Tunirrusiangit, “their gifts” or “what they gave” in Inuktitut, celebrates the achievements of two remarkable artists who challenged the parameters of tradition while consistently articulating a compelling vision of the Inuit world view. Published to coincide with a major exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, opening on 16 June and continuing until late August, Tunirrusiangit features more than 60 reproductions of paintings, drawings, and documentary photographs. Completing the book are essays by contemporary artists and curators Jocelyn Piirainen, Anna Hudson, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Koomuatuk Curley, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, and Taqralik Partridge that address both the past and future of Inuit identity.
For decades, the Inuit of northern Québec were among the most neglected people in Canada. It took The Battle of James Bay, 1971-1975, for the governments in Québec City and Ottawa to wake up to the disgrace.
In this concise, lively account, Zebedee Nungak relates the inside story of how the young Inuit and Cree “Davids” took action when Québec began construction on the giant James Bay hydro project. They fought in court and at the negotiation table for an accord that effectively became Canada’s first land-claims agreement. Nungak’s account is accompanied by his essays on Nunavik history. Together they provide a fascinating insight into a virtually unknown chapter of Canadian history.