We introduced our final topic with the movie Persepolis by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. This animated film based on Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel of the same name deals with various global issues as seen through the eyes of a young teenager named Marji.
The movie introduced the teens involved in Portrait of Children to historical events like the civil war in Iran as well as Marji’s struggles to fit in to a culture that isn’t her own. This opened up an interesting after-movie discussion: do you think people do things differently in Nunavut than in the rest of Canada? Do you think it would be different to go live down south (e.g., in Montreal or Toronto)?
I want to travel to . . . (continued)
The next day I made a PowerPoint presentation showing pictures of places to visit in each of the countries that participants said they wanted to travel to.
It was a big success. After seeing the pictures, almost everyone moved their pin to a different spot on the world map!
For our final evening of activities at Portrait of Children, we decided to have a fiesta! I put together a merengue music playlist, we got more balloons, and hung the piñatas. Then we kicked off the night with some Spanish lessons. I taught the teens the basics (“hello” and “thank you”) as well as some phrases that are important to know in Igloolik, such as “I’m hot,” “where are you going?” and “mosquito.”
Around 9 p.m., we smashed our three piñatas. The day before, participants had painted them brown while Annie made wings and stingers for them. They turned them into mosquito piñatas—the perfect blend of Latin and Inuk culture!
Once all the activities were over, the teens who hadn’t answered all the questions on the iPod had one last chance to do so. This was our final day of iPod recording and fun activities, but it wasn’t the final day of the project. The following Monday, we presented several aspects of the website to the participants and then we had draw using all the stuff I had brought from the South as prizes, including an iPod.
Read more about this event in my final blog post—coming soon!
When we first started on our final theme (world), I was eager to find out if, like me, Igloolik teens were interested in what’s going on in the rest of the world. Even though we only just began delving into the topic a few days ago, lots of the smaller activities that we have been doing also relate to it.
1000 Days for the Planet
Ever since day one, we have been following the Sedna IV in its new adventure called 1000 Days for the Planet. For this three-year expedition, scientist Jean Lemire and his crew will sail around the world documenting the state of the earth. Through online activities, videos, maps, log entries, and daily photos on the official website, you can become a “virtual sailor” on this environmental regatta.
Every day, Annie prints out the daily photo and I prepare a short outline of the log entry. We also made a small paper boat that we pin on our world map to track the ship.
The teens were especially interested and shocked to learn about the impact that pollution has on the Atlantic Ocean. Here’s a link to the video: http://sedna.radio-canada.ca/en/adventure/videos/920
I want to travel to . . .
The Sedna IV was not the only thing we pinned on our world map; each of us also stuck a pin with our name on it to the country we most want to visit. The majority of the teens said they wanted to travel to Greenland, but the more adventurous ones chose countries like Italy, China, and Australia. Sticking our names on the map let us see the location of the countries we want to visit. We later made a PowerPoint presentation using pictures of the different countries.
Ever since the beginning I knew that I wanted to make piñatas with the Portrait of Children participants—they are easy and cheap, they take teamwork, not to mention that they are fun to smash when you’re done! Plus, we were planning a Latin party for our final activity. Slowly but surely, over the course of several days, we covered balloons with papier-mâché. We weren’t really sure what they would look like in the end. To learn what our piñatas became, read my next blog post.
For weeks now, Marianne Farley and I have been trying to find an evening when she would be available to come and see us at Portrait of Children. Last Friday the actress who plays Anna in the movie Uvanga finally came to the old youth centre to talk about what she does. The teens had so many questions for her: Is it an easy job?, What do you like the most?, Where do I recognize you from? Marianne, who is missing her own two children in Montreal, was very happy to spend an evening with the youth of Igloolik.
Afterwards, we talked about a more serious topic: relationships. Relationships always involve at least two individuals making it important that our activity be a group activity. Since Marianne was our special guest, we decided to make short movies. In groups of three or four, the teens shot two movies: one that portrayed a positive relationship and one that portrayed a negative one. They used their Portrait of Children iPods to record the videos and then we watched them all as a group. Lots of good discussions and laughs were had by all!
Here are some of the movies made by the group:
In Nunavut, the elders play a central role in preserving and passing on the Inuk culture to future generations so it was important that an elder come to Portrait of Children as part of our cultural activities. Earlier this week we had the privilege of spending the evening with Lydia Qaunaq, an elder from Igloolik.
We originally wanted to hold the bonfire at the sod houses beyond Ham Bay. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, sod houses are traditional Inuit summer houses and the remnants at Ham Bay are particularly well preserved (especially given that no restoration work has been done).
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the day of the activity that I realized that we wouldn’t have enough transportation for everyone. Mary and I tried making a few phone calls but nobody’s cars seemed to be working that week.
We decided to switch to the bonfire circle facing the beautiful islands of Avvajja on the cemetery hill, just past the golf course. It’s only a thirty-minute walk from the outskirts of town but you feel like you‘re miles from civilization. The photographer Philippe and I walked there with the teens, while Annie and Lydia brought all the equipment on four-wheelers.
I’d like to add that Igloolik is covered with clouds of mosquitoes this time of year. And even though Annie had a fire going when by the time we got there, the smoke wasn’t enough to keep the mosquitoes away—but we had a good mosquito repellent!
Lydia only speaks Inuktitut so Mary translated her stories for Annie and me. Lydia started by telling us about her childhood as an only child, raised by her grandparents. With no boys to help her grandfather with the hunting and fishing, she had to go with him to find food for the family. Back then, they moved from place to place every season and lived in an igloo in the winter. The only white people she knew were the priest and the representative from Hudson’s Bay Company.
In 1950, Lydia’s family moved to the new town of Igloolik. As there were no grocery stores in town, people would travel 423 km by dogsled to Arctic Bay to buy groceries. She said that so much has changed since then. She maintained that the notion of respect—a pillar of Inuk culture—was growing weaker every day, saying that children no longer listen or respect elders outside of their own families. She was saddened by this, adding that people still have so much to learn from them. I also found it interesting what she said about seal skins: that you used to be able to leave a seal skin out to dry all day but now the sun is too strong and burns the skin. Is this not concrete proof that the ozone layer is getting thinner?
Culture is a recurring theme in Portrait of Children so we organized a number of culture-related activities.
For our first activity, we asked the teens to draw traditional Inuit objects and activities. Mary and Annie brought in some photos for inspiration. The old youth centre was completely covered with drawings of ulus, amautis, kamiiks, inukshuks, whales and hunting scenes!
What made this activity so special? The great thing about this activity is that the best drawings will be used in the restaurant scene in the movie Uvanga! (The script says that artwork by students hang on the walls of Jeela’s restaurant.) Production Designer Mélanie McNicoll and Artistic Director Susan Avingaq were blown away by the talent when I gave them the drawings later that week!
For our second cultural activity, we watched the movie Inuit Piqutingit (What Belongs to Inuit).
This documentary by Isuma Productions is about a group of Nunavut elders who visit museums in Toronto, NYC, Philadelphia, and Ottawa where they get to see a number of Inuit artefacts. The movie is a wonderful opportunity to see objects that are not typically accessible to the general public—a great documentary!
Earlier that week we helped Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka paint the new Kingulliit office. Patrick showed us photos of buildings they had painted in the past. He also talked about how they liked to combine elements from the Inuk culture with recycled objects. After his presentation, Patrick and Alexa taught everyone how to make patterns and stencils. The teens then painted recycled parts of qamutiiks (dog sleds) that they had found at the dump.
Here’s the end result:
Next week Portrait of Children will visit the sod houses with two elders. These traditional Inuit summer houses in Foxe Basin have been named archaeological sites by Heritage Canada. I’ll be writing all about our activity in my next blog entry!