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!