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Three Videos from the Women's Video Workshop of Igloolik

These three videos celebrate the culture of women in Igloolik.

How does one experience the dawning of the third millennium in a small Inuit community in the midst of political and social change?

Since its beginnings in 1991, the Women's Video Workshop of Igloolik has revealed the originality of its producers, the context of their work and lives, and their cultural values unique in Canada. Whether in the form of a series of interviews, or as short works linking songs to the words and re-enactment of traditional activities, the videos celebrate the specificity of the culture of women in Igloolik.

The videos screened, Qulliq (Oil Lamp), Aqtuqsi (My Nightmare) and Ningiura (My Grandmother), express the artists' research into traditional and contemporary Inuit styles of narration. They also reflect the cultural values of the participants: respect for community events, for Elders, for hunting and fishing seasons, for certain traditions belonging to particular families, etc. Participants work as a team to write the scenes of each script, to make the costumes and accessories, and to shape the interaction and performances of the actors.

For example, Mary Kunuk (sister of film director, Zacharias Kunuk) produced Aqtuqsi—a video about a dream from which one must wake up—a paralyzing nightmare. She says, "I decided to put my aqtuqsi in video. It's so interesting because it is not a nightmare or a regular dream. An aqtuqsi is something that can paralyze you when you're sleeping." In Aqtuqsi, Kunuk used colour and black and white, video and animation, as well as an Inuit song that tells the story of the dream, to share this experience with viewers.

Working in difficult social conditions, the sheer endurance required of the women in the workshop to produce these videos testifies to the importance of the project in their lives.

Read the exhibition brochure.

About the Artists

Mary Kunuk

Mary Kunuk is a founding member of Arnait Video Productions. An artist, print-maker and video maker, Kunuk has received NWT Arts Council and Canada Council grants to produce several experimental videos using computer animation.

Susan Avingaq

Susan Avingaq is a regular participant in the Video Workshop since 1991. She was a key member of the production team for Qulliq, as writer, actor and musician. A reknowned artist in the Baffin region, she is active locally in teaching sewing traditions to younger Inuit women.

Madeline Ivalu

Madeline Ivalu has been a key elder participant in all the productions by the Video Workshop since 1991 as a cultural adviser, interviewer, storyteller, musician, actor and writer. Ivalu is president of Naluat in Igloolik, a women's sewing collective, and often represents Igloolik women to Paukktutit, the pan-Canadian Inuit women's organization.

Rachel Uyurasuk

Rachel Uyurasukis an elder who participates in many of our projects. She was involved in the first video, Women's Way (1991). In the summer of 1999, at age 85, she played a major role in Ningiura. A former midwife, poet and singer, she once travelled alone to New Mexico to be part of a traditional storytelling festival.

Marie-Hélène Cousineau

Marie-Hélène Cousineau is the founding Coordinator the Arnait Women's Video Workshop, and is its trainer as well as a collaborating producer. Cousineau was Associate Professor of Communications at Concordia University in Montreal (1997-1999).

Image credit: Mary Kunuk, Aqtuqsi (My Nightmare) (video still).