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  • Interview with Paul Apak Angilirq

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    channel: Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)

    PAUL APAK ANGILIRQ (1954-1998)

    Interviewed by Nancy Wachowich, currently professor at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Sadly, Paul Apak died in December 1998, before the film was completed.

    This interview was recorded on the afternoon of 16 April, 1997 at the Isuma building in Igloolik, when I was conducting fieldwork for my PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. My research was concerned with the Inuit effort to preserve traditions. Apak and I had just spent almost an hour and a half that morning having coffee and discussing his twenty-year career as a videographer in Igloolik. Though my reason for dropping by was to arrange an afternoon taped interview, we began speaking candidly about Apak's use of film to address cultural agendas in Igloolik. Among other things, he reflected on the capacity of this medium to regenerate Inuit land skills, language and cultural traditions.

    Our discussions are useful in contextualizing the interview that followed. They were centered on Atanarjuat's script and screenplay (which was still unfinished at that time). Apak spoke about the writing process and the five years of work that he had already dedicated to the project. He described how transforming rich and complex oral traditions into written texts could be a stimulating and engrossing, yet arduous process. He told me how, while writing the script, he had tried to think, act and speak in the manner of Inuit ancestors, virtually becoming each of the characters in turn. Highlighted in his account were the hours he spent in consultation with community elders over the years, working to recreate centuries old Inuit cultural and linguistic patterns in the script. During the same month that our interview took place, Isuma had coordinated a series of drama workshops at which individuals in the community had been tentatively assigned roles. Like him, he remarked, these men and women had already begun living their characters' or 'living their traditions' by growing their hair, by learning rituals and rules of behaviour and by practicing speaking Inuktitut using the dialect of the elders used when Inuit lived on the land.

    During our two hour conversation, Paul Apak Angilirq also spoke of his aspirations to produce with his colleagues a screenplay that would be accessible to a more mainstream, movie-going audience- - to create a film that would not only communicate cultural knowledge, but also offset the effects of colonial paternalism on his people and foster healthy social relationships between Inuit in Igloolik and cultural outsiders.

    I returned that afternoon with an audio-casette recorder to 'formally record' some of these themes. Our taped interview appears below.


    NW: How did you first hear about the legend of Atanarjuat?

    PA: Well, Inuit, they tell legends. They tell stories. I first heard the story from some of the elders when I was young, but I didn't pay too much attention to it until later on. When I was at IBC (Inuit Broadcasting Corporation), I started thinking about this legend again so I asked some elders during a language workshop to tell this legend to me. That is when I really became interested in writing a movie script. When I left IBC, I started working with Zach Kunuk at Igloolik Isuma Productions. I talked to him about this legend and my idea to make it into a movie. We applied for funding and the money came around, so I started recording the elders. From those recordings, I started to track down the story. That is how it started.

    NW: How many people did you interview?

    PA: Maybe about eight to ten elders.

    NW: So then you wrote a script from those interviews?

    PA: Yes.

    NW: Did you write it in English or Inuktitut?

    PA: The story, I wrote it in English. And when I started writing the script, I wrote it in Inuktitut.

    NW: So let me get this straight, it was written out on paper from tapes of the elders speaking in Inuktitut, then turned into an English story, and then turned into an Inuktitut script, and then turned into an English script?

    PA: Yes, that is the system that we had to use in order to get money. Because, like, Canada Council and other places where we could apply for money, they don't read Inuktitut. They need to have something in writing in English. So that is why I wrote the story in English first, in order to get some funding to go ahead and continue with it.

    NW: Do you think film is a good way to communicate Inuit legends and to maintain Inuit traditions?

    PA: Oh yes. I think that traditions are really being maintained with this film, so far, because there are a lot of people involved in it. For instance, we will need about 35 actors in all for our film. Along with that, the film tells a story, a legend that is right at the base roots of Inuit culture. The film is working to preserve both the knowledge and the traditions. We try to go as far back as we can into our history and as far back as possible with the language. We try to use the old language. The film is going far beyond what we expected in terms of people learning the culture. We really preserve a lot of things that we wouldn't be able to if it wasn't for this legend, this screenplay. We go to the elders and ask information about the old ways, about religion, about things that a lot of people have no remembrance of now.

    NW: What made you become interested in working with film?

    PA: I guess that film-making was part of what I was doing when I worked for IBC. I was producing programs, regional programs, and also the news. But I wasn't satisfied. I wanted something that would be real, something bigger than what I had been doing.

    NW: You went straight from IBC to working solely on Atanarjuat?

    PA: Yeah, pretty well. But I have also done some work for Isuma, for Zach Kunuk, doing some editing for him. I was the Chief Editor for the Nunavut Series (1).

    [We stop the tape recorder here to make some coffee. The recording machine is turned back on during our discussions of Apak's film-work previous to Atanarjuat.]



    NW: I saw the posters about the 1987 Qitdlarssuaq Expedition (2), and I read a book about the original expedition. You were part of that recent one, right? Could you tell me about it?

    PA: Again, it was started with my interests with my culture. Since I was part of a new generation, exposed to a new set of ideas, I never had a chance to really find myself, to really see who I am. So when I heard about this expedition, about retracing Qitdlarssuaq's migration route from this area to Greenland, since I had these ongoing interests in our culture, I asked to be in it. And also I was driving a dog team full-time at that time and I worked for IBC. That is how I got involved in this expedition to Greenland by dog sled.

    NW: That was in 1987. What about the other one? Didn't you go to Siberia?

    PA: Yes, after this trip. After we got back from our expedition to Greenland, that was, what year? I think 1990. Anyway, I got a call asking if I would be interested in taking part in an expedition to Siberia, in a walrus skin open-boat expedition from Siberia to Alaska for the summer. So I did! I like getting myself into situations where I think 'What am I doing here?' I get excited by that... It didn't take long for me to decide. It was almost right after the phone-call that I said 'yes'. That is how excited I was. That is how I got to take part in the Siberian expedition.

    [We break again, and then resume our earlier taped conversation about Atanarjuat]


    NW: How many elders do you have working with you, helping you decide how people should talk with each other and what people did back then?

    PA: We have two elders. They are our cultural advisors or consultants. They are working on our screenplay with us, like, they are helping us write down what people would have said and acted in the past, and what the dialogue would have been like. So we need elders with us who speak in fluent old Inuktitut. Yes, that is important. We have two elders with us when we are writing the screenplay. There are four of us writing: myself, Zach Kunuk, and the elders, Herve Paniaq and Pauloosie Qulitalik.

    NW: So they decide how people act in the movie?

    PA: Yeah, that is how it works. Myself, and Zach, we are able to speak Inuktitut, but we speak 'baby talk' compared to the elders. But for Atanarjuat, we want people speaking real Inuktitut. So that is why it is important for us to have the elders with us.

    NW: Would people act differently back then? Would husband and wives act differently with one another?

    PA: Oh yes, like for example, working with Paniaq or Qulitalik, when we are writing the script, they might jump in and say, 'Oh, we wouldn't say such a word to our in-law! We wouldn't say anything to our brother's wives! It was against the law!' Also, there were these things that went on in the camps back then that today we don't know the meaning. We get the meanings from the elders, and then we understand why. We learn the reasons why people acted that way. Then we work things out with the script.

    NW: What do the actors have to learn?

    PA: If someone is going to be an actor in the movie, that person has to learn the whole script. If they learn the whole script, then they will know that they are going to have to be ready to learn as much about the old ways as the script-person did in the old culture. The actors are learning new words and learning songs that represent what the people did at that time. And also they are learning about how people went about their lives at that time. That is how much actors will be assimilating from Inuit tradition. They will have to learn this, besides being actors. They will have to know more than just acting. What we are focusing on right now is teaching people to be who they are in the role.

    NW: So how many people do you think will be involved with the movie, and what sort of involvement will people in the community have?

    PA: Well, there is a whole lot of involvement besides the actors. We will need costumes made for us. We will need a lot of women to do that. There is the mechanical side, mechanical assistance which we will have to get from the south. There is so much we will need, besides just actors. A lot of people will be involved. A lot of Inuit, a good number of people in the community are involved already, even at this stage where we are now.

    NW: Do you think this kind of project will help promote traditions in Igloolik?

    PA: Yeah, some of it. In our script, there are a lot of things that have not been taught or communicated to people in a long time. There are things from the old culture that will be very new to most of the younger people. There is a lot of information and research into the old ways that we are putting into that movie. So, yes, I am sure that this movie will help promote the culture.

    NW: What kind of audience are you directing the movie towards?

    PA: Well, anybody, no matter who they are and where they are from. We are thinking about the same audiences that would go see movies in the south. You know, the movies with movie stars or whatever. Anyone who watches movies.

    NW: How do you think Atanarjuat will be different from other films about Inuit? Like, Shadow of the Wolf, or other films about Inuit shown in the south?

    PA: There are a number of differences between what we are doing and other movies that have been produced regarding our Inuit culture. This movie will be based on an Inuit legend, and also it is all going to be in Inuktitut. And also, all of the actors will have to be Inuk. No Japanese or whoever else who pretend to be Inuit. You know. It will be done the Inuit way. We want things presented in the movie the way they would have happened in real life. That is what we are going to do.

    NW: Do you have any more ideas about new projects besides Atanarjuat?

    PA: Yeah, I do. I have something that I cannot talk about right now because right now I have to concentrate about what I am doing with this movie, writing this movie script. I have other interests that I want to get into later on.

    We end the interview on this note, and Paul Apak Angilirq returns to his desk and laptop computer by the window.



    (1) The Nunavut Series, produced in 1994, was a series of 13 half-hour television programs entitled Nunavut (Our Land). This series recreates traditional life on the land in 1945 as it would have been for five Iglulingmiut families just before implementation of northern development policies and the creation of permanent settlements in the Arctic. Each half-hour episode of the Nunavut Series re-enacts a different event or activity from life in 1945. They featured such activities as driving dog-teams, building stone houses, constructing sod houses, igloos and ice porches, carving harpoons, and various methods of hunting seals, walrus, bear and caribou, and of fishing. Episodes from Nunavut (Our Land) were selected for the Sundance and New York Film Festivals; they were showcased as one of Canada's best shows of the year at INPUT '95 in Spain; and they were featured in all-day screenings at New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

    (2) In 1987, Paul Apak Angilirq and three travelling companions took part in an arctic expedition retracing the route taken during an epic mid-19th century polar migration when a shaman, Qitlaq, led more than forty Inuit from the North Baffin region across Smith Sound to Greenland. Paul Apak brought his camera along during this dogteam and sled expedition as well as during his trip three years later from Alaska across the Bering Strait to Siberia in a walrus skin boat. He produced three films from these expeditions that were aired on IBC.

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    uploaded date: 20-01-2010

  • About ARTCO

    uploaded by: David Ertel


    Inuit and Cree children use new media tools through a multidisciplinary artistic process to explore their past and present realities, connect with others, practice collective action and create a better future.

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    uploaded date: 10-12-2012


    uploaded by: David Ertel

    ARTCO "Artisans of Today's Communities" is a project led by Kingulliit Productions and IsumaTV where Inuit and Cree children use new media tools to explore their past and present realities, practice collective action and create a better future.

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    uploaded date: 22-08-2011

  • ARTCO Full Site

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three. Testing one two three.

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    uploaded date: 23-08-2011

  • ARTCO New Media Workshop

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES – Workshop by Gabriela Gámez

    Introduction to the ARTCO project and to the new media technologies the participants will be using throughout the process.

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    uploaded date: 20-09-2011

  • ARTCO Video Workshop

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    VIDEO – Workshop by Diego Rivera

    Children, teachers and community organizers learn how to use video as a tool to expand attention and for storytelling. Using this video technique, Cree and Inuit children explore their daily practices.

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    uploaded date: 22-08-2011

  • Baffinland Mine early development

    uploaded by: David Ertel


    The Mary River Mine developed by Baffinland Iron Mine Corporation is a massive and unprecedented mining development for Nunavut (and the Arctic region in general). On the one hand, it represents a major opportunity for potential benefits to workers and their families, to Inuit communities and designated Inuit organizations, as well as to the territorial and federal governments. On the other hand, there are risks of negative impacts related to the environment, socio-economic conditions and human rights. Baffinland began exploration at Mary River in 2006. Between 2008-2013 Baffinland began early development work at the mine site while impact review process and consultations are conducted by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB).

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    uploaded date: 08-01-2019

  • DID

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    Today's legal obligation to 'Inform and Consult' must be conducted with the best available technology in a language people understand.

    Audio and video interactive new media allows oral spoken Inuktitut to be the main language used to 'inform and consult' Inuit by internet.

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    uploaded date: 11-12-2018

  • El Grito de la Selva

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    The regional indigenous movement of the 1990s in Bolivia sets the stage for the country’s first indigenous feature film. Communities in lowland Beni are shattered by violence meted out by illegal loggers. Their defense of their lives and lands culminates in protests that change the political landscape of Bolivia forever.

    El Grito de la Selva/Cry of the Forest
    (2008, 95 min.) BOLIVIA
    Director: Alejandro Noza (Moxeño), Nicolás Ipamo (Chiquitano), Ivan Sanjinés
    Produced by: Cinematography Education and Production Center - Bolivian Indigenous Peoples' Audiovisual Council (CEFREC-CAIB) and the Aboriginal Indigenous National Plan for Audiovisual Communication.
    In Spanish with English subtitles.

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    uploaded date: 25-01-2011

  • First Online Film Festival 2015

    uploaded by: Cara Di Staulo

    IsumaTV First Online Film Festival

    MARCH 2ND - APRIL 1ST 2015

    The IsumaTV First Online Film Festival brought international and remote viewers an exciting and engaging online program of indigenous feature films, documentaries and shorts.

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    uploaded date: 04-12-2014

  • Healing Through Art

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    Organizer Patricia Falope

     Workshop Artists: Andy Williams, Jennifer Casimir (aka B Girl Bounce) and Mennatalla Shawky.

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    uploaded date: 04-12-2012

  • Human Rights Impact Assessment

    uploaded by: Gabriela Gamez

    September 2012 - June 2013

    The assessment of the human rights situation for the Mary River mine begins with a review of how government protects human rights in Canada. According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, governments must protect against human rights abuse within their territory, including by companies. This requires taking steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress such abuse through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication.

    Canada is a signatory to most international human rights treaties. Even though it was initially opposed to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it now supports it. Canada also supports international human rights standards related to business and human rights. At the same time, Canada is aggressively pursuing resource development (in Canada and around the world) as part of its economic strategy. Canada needs to ensure that its resource development strategy does not contradict human rights.

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    uploaded date: 18-12-2018

  • Igloolik Radio Online

    uploaded by: IgloolikRadio

    Call in

    Share your perspective live via phone or Facebook!


    Comment on our page

    Live streaming schedule 

    10:00 – 13:3006:00 – 09:0013:00 – 18:00
    17:00 – 18:0010:00 – 12:0020:00 – 24:00
    20:00 – 22:00

    13:00 – 18:00

     20:00 – 24:00


    Having trouble?



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    uploaded date: 03-04-2012

  • IKCC Commentaries

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    Listen to people's reactions and comments about Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change.

    You can also follow co-director Dr Ian Mauro's blog here!

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    uploaded date: 07-12-2010

  • IKCC Screenings

    uploaded by: IsumaTV

    Book Screenings

    Book screenings, rent or buy copies of Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change from our distributor Vtape. Contact Wanda at +1.416.351.1317 or email wandav@vtape.org.

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    uploaded date: 06-12-2010

  • Isuma Online: Igloolik Venice 1985–2019

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    In 1985, Zacharias Kunuk broke the race barrier at Canada Council for the Arts when his Inuktitut-language video, From Inuk Point of View, was the first work by an Inuit or Aboriginal artist deemed eligible to apply for a professional artist’s grant. Kunuk was the video’s director; Norman Cohn cameraman; Paul Apak editor; and elder Pauloosie Qulitalik told the story.… Read more

    uploaded date: 26-02-2019

  • Mary River Mine – Summary

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    The Mary River Mine is a massive and unprecedented mining development for Nunavut (and the Arctic region in general). On the one hand, it represents a major opportunity for potential benefits to workers and their families, to Inuit communities and designated Inuit organizations, as well as to the territorial and federal governments.… Read more

    uploaded date: 18-12-2018

  • Mining in Nunavut – Summary

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    The Mary River mine is not the first mine to developed in Nunavut, nor will it be the last. Mining projects in Nunavut are becoming increasingly feasible from a technological and economic point of view. Climate change will make mining and resource development more attractive and accessible.… Read more

    uploaded date: 19-12-2018

  • More Voices on Inuit Knowledge & Climate Change

    uploaded by: IsumaTV

    Additional Voices on Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change are being uploaded every day to the channel http://www.isuma.tv/ikcc/voices. Some in Inuktitut, others in English.

    More discussion about Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, other related human rights issues, see also IKCC at www.isuma.tv/ikcc

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    uploaded date: 14-10-2010

  • NIRB makes recommendations

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    September 14th, 2012

    NIRB recommends using new media technology to inform, consult and connect Inuit communities in its Final Hearing Report on Baffinland's Mary River Project released September 14, 2012.

    The potential of digital media to improve public participation in oral Inuktitut was demonstrated to NIRB by IsumaTV's Digital Indigenous Democracy [www.isuma.tv/DID], a new web portal launched May 2012 by Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk.

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    uploaded date: 04-01-2019

  • NITV Québec

    uploaded by: IsumaTV

    Check out NITV local programming from Igloolik 1995-2007

    Nunavut Independent Television Network (formerly called Tarriaksuk Video Centre), based in Igloolik, Nunavut, is Canada's first artist-run media centre located in a remote Inuit community. Founded in 1991, NITV's mandate is to encourage and support the creation of artistic, community-based media productions that serve the objectives of self-representation and cultural/linguistic preservation by adapting Inuit oral traditions to modern media technologies. Specifically, NITV aims to expand local access television in Igloolik and link other Nunavut communities through NITV on IsumaTV 3.0, by developing the use of Internet-TV (IPTV) to increase the production and distribution of Inuktitut-language and other Aboriginal programming. NITV is one of the founding members of IsumaTV [www.isuma.tv], a collective multimedia internet platform for Inuit and Aboriginal media worldwide. NITV also is one of the founding partners in Digital Indigenous Democracy, an effort to bring global partners into a working collaboration through 3.0 internet and socio-political networking. More information at info@isuma.tv.

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    uploaded date: 23-05-2011

  • Norman Cohn Commentary

    uploaded by: Norman Cohn

    Sometime commentary or information related to IsumaTV's Digital Indigenous Democracy (DID) by Norman Cohn, DID co-director.

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    uploaded date: 06-07-2010

  • One day in the life of Noah Piugattuk

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk compresses Piugattuk’s 96-year lifetime into a dramatized feature film portrait of one day in that life, a 24-hour day when the sun never sets, out hunting seals on the spring sea ice in May 1961, in the Igloolik region of north Baffin Island.

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    uploaded date: 30-03-2019

  • Silakut

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    ᓯᓚᒃᑯᑦ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᑲᐅᑎᒋᔪᖅ ᑕᕆᔭᐅᓯᐅᕐᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᐅᖃᓪᓚᒃᑎᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᓴᖃᓕᐊᓯ ᑯᓄᒃ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᔭᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐅᔭᕋᒃᓯᐅᕐᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐅᐊᖕᓇᖓᓂ ᕿᑭᕐᑖᓗᒃᒥ.

    Silakut is a LIVE documentary series hosted by Zacharias Kunuk that shares Inuit perspectives about mining in the North Baffin region.

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    uploaded date: 19-03-2019

  • Venado (Deer)

    uploaded by: David Ertel

    "The Marakate are guided by fire and feather… in their singing they will find the way… if there are no jicareros to provide the offerings to the sacred place, illness may come, or it may stop raining."

    - José María Reza, marakame (chanter, healer, schaman), Cohamiata, July 2002

    "A los marakate los guían el fuego y las plumas; en el canto ellos van a encontrar el camino...... si no hay jicareros para entregar las ofrendas en los lugares sagrados, puede venir la enfermedad, o puede dejar de llover."

    - José María Reza, marakame de Cohamiata. Julio de 2002

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    uploaded date: 23-06-2010