Musher's view of sled dogs out on the line, ready to pull

As I recount my incredible adventure across Canada from the far North, I realize that every hamlet we stopped in had so many interesting elements. Igloolik is no exception. Here are the top 5 most impactful experiences I had there.

5) SUPER RAD LOOKING TOWN

My team from the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conferencelanded in Igloolik, Nunavut. Igloolik I must say is a pretty cool place. The hamlet rests on the side of a hill overlooking the frozen Foxe basin between the Nunavut mainland and Baffin Island. At the top of the hill is the Igloolik Research Center, that looks like a building made by “The Others” in the TV series Lost.

Igloolik Research Station

4) BEST PIZZA NORTH-WEST OF SICILY

Aside from the physically interesting elements of this arctic hamlet, the cultural elements are incredibly dynamic. There is a sense of entrepreneurship, innovation, and artistic expression here that I find rare in communities. The pizza makers at the world’s northern-most pizzeria proudly bake some of the best pizza I have ever had.

Top of the World Pizza…fantastic!

3) WORLD CLASS FILM SCENE

We were able to meet Zacharias Kunuk, the Cannes Lion award winning film director of ‘Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner’, one of Canada’s top-grossing films and winner of many Genie Awards the Caméra d’Or (Golden Camera) at Cannes. Zacharias met with us at his studio that doubles as the community television station. The film industry in the North is becoming a very important way to document the stories and life of the Inuit people, and Zacharias was kind enough to share his perspectives on the political and social power of the medium.

Our group with Zacharias at his studio in Igloolik.

2) JAW DROPPING CIRQUE

We also had a chance to witness one of the coolest (literally and figuratively) Cirque acts that I have ever witnessed. Artcirq is a world-class cirque group that travels the globe. It was established as a response to a suicide epidemic that the community wanted to end. The empowerment, skill, joy and pride that has resulted is powerful. Art and impact.

1) ELDERS & THE DOG SLAY

The biggest impact for me during my visit to Igloolik was the humbling opportunity to meet with the elders of the community. They invited us to a council meeting, and were so incredibly welcoming, loving and kind. The meeting quickly became emotional when a few of the elders recounted their experience being taken away from their parents when they were children to be put into residential schools.

Shawna Coxon, two Igloolik Elders, and myself

This led to an opening-up of others to share with us a lot of traumatic experiences that their community has gone through. One gentleman with tears in his eyes described what it was like when the RCMP shot many of the loose sled dogs across the arctic, including his. The RCMP claimed it was a public health issue, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to why this happened. The sled dogs were an important tool for Inuit to hunt and provide for their families. Killing the dogs literally tethered the previously nomadic Inuit to their communities, which has had an impact on their culture, health and self sufficiency.

Our GGCLC team with Igloolik elders and the Rangers

What I learned at this meeting inspired me to look deeper, and there are accounts from communities all across the arctic of a mass slaying of dogs.

We ended our day blessed with an invite to actually go dog-sledding, which we did. It was amazing. These dogs are incredible, and I can see how losing the ability to go out on the ice with these amazing animals would be such a great loss, for so many reasons.


Sled Dogs ready for a run.

It really has been a humbling experience traveling in the North and meeting so many incredible people who have made the Arctic home for thousands of years. I wish every Canadian could see Canada this way.

The Governor General of Canada’s Leadership Conference has given my group permission to release the film project we shot up during our time up North. It will be released soon. Stay tuned and have a loving day!

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About The Author

Greg Hemmings's picture

As an entrepreneur, filmmaker, and community movement-maker, Greg Hemmings is a global thought leader in the area of positive social impact filmmaking. Greg’s focus is on how companies can inspire positive change by investing in social impact films and at the same time, increase brand trust in the market.

His commitment for positive social change has taken him and his team to all corners of the globe to tell global stories to inspire local change and local stories to inspire global change. His company, Hemmings House, is a certified B-Corporation and employs 12 full-time change-makers who feverishly produce filmed content that makes a difference. Hemmings House has been producing film content for the brand marketing and global broadcast industries for almost a decade. They have also created a process that engages social community and brand stakeholders in the film story experience helping to accelerate social movements that matter to them.

Their TV series’ and documentaries have been sold to over 60 broadcasters around the world, and they have helped connect customers to brands with aligned values by helping tell authentic stories that build trust.

Greg is a member of the Order of the Wallace McCain Institute and a graduate of the Wallace McCain Institute’s Entrepreneur Leadership Program. He has also furthered his training with the National Screen Institute for their Global Television Marketing Program in Winnipeg and Cannes France, as well as the North American Media Executive Leadership Program in Banff.

Greg has won multiple awards internationally and regionally including the prestigious Royal Common Wealth Society’s Vision Film Award in London England. 

Greg is also a mentor, public speaker, podcaster, writer, adventurer, musician…and most importantly a dad and husband.

greg@hemmingshouse.com
www.greghemmngs.me
www.hemmingshouse.com
Twitter / Instagram @greghemmings
Blog Medium.com/@greghemmings

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