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Nunavut 10th Anniversary Celebration

Photographs and Film, Part 1

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Gisèle Jacob: So earlier, we learned how Nunavut expresses or is expressing stories in names and maps. Now we're going to see how Nunavut communicates though images. Carolyn Forcier-Holloway will introduce us to historical films about Nunavut. She is an audio-visual archivist at Library and Archives Canada, as well as working as a reference archivist and as an audio-visual content specialist. She has taught oral history workshops and sound archiving courses. She's a strong advocate of the donor interview and, as such, she has developed and encourages the use of guidelines and checklists for donors of amateur film and oral history with the goal of providing further context to archiving collections. And I do want to put a plug in for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. I think I've been very good about that since the beginning, but some of the segments you are going to see today are from Graham Rowley, a long-time fellow of the Society who, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago, but he was a dedicated member of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and I want to honour his memory as Carolyn introduces her talk to us this afternoon. Carolyn.

Carolyn Forcier-Holloway: Bonjour. Hello. And I haven't learned how to say hello in Inuktitut so I apologize. Today I will speak about the film collection at Library and Archives Canada, and I will show an excerpt, as Gisèle has mentioned, of the… actually a few excerpts made into a compilation of a ten-minute film taken by Graham Rowley in 1937. My kids often ask me what do I do or what did I do today, and they say did you watch another film? Did you watch another movie? And I often say, yes, I did, and I was… I am quite happy to say that I did and I say but I have lots of fun doing that but I also have a lot of fun putting puzzles together, and then they look at me and I say, well, I tell them the story and then just as I will tell you the story. I acquire and describe moving image and sound documents and, in particular, those pertaining to Aboriginal content and their creators. Many types of films exist in our holdings, such as features, shorts, documentaries, dramas, industrial, instructional, home movies, silent or with sound, available in various gauges from 35 mm to super 8 mm. In 1973 the National Film Archives Division was established at the Public Archives of Canada. We acquire private and governmental records due to a Telefilm Canada agreement put in place several years ago. This ensures the donation of two copies of all Telefilm-funded productions to be archived with LAC. Examples of such films include Atanarjuat The Fast Runner or The Journals of Knud Rasmussen produced by Igloolik Isuma Productions. Our holdings also include IBC, Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network programming. All original and master audio-visual records are stored at Library and Archives Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. With an appointment, consultation copies can be consulted at our downtown location.

Rob? Sorry. While we're waiting for Rob to come down… I'm sorry about this…

There are many films that I could have chosen today to show to you, but I chose to show you this film because you've probably never seen it. It's an amateur film and… sorry. Okay, so instead of me running through a list of feature films that we have, I just listed a few of them that you might know about and a list of short films that are significant as part of our collection. Sorry, I've got my little cheat sheets here but they're not working today, so. Canada's most northern regions have always attracted many who come from far and wide to conduct scientific research, carry out surveys relating to natural resources, increase missionary efforts, explore sovereignty issues and patrol the land. Film is a medium that can be used to trace the evolution of a means of documenting Inuit culture as seen by amateur or professional eyes behind a lens. The advent of moving images added another dimension to documenting the ways of the Inuit, the beauty of the land they inhabit and bringing those images back to the non-inhabitants. However, rarely were any of these moving images seen by the Inuit who were its prime focus. Okay. Thank you.

This is Graham Rowley, archaeologist with the British Canadian Arctic Expedition from 1936 to 1939, headed to Northern Baffin Island… sorry it's running into a bit of a slide show… headed to Northern Baffin Island and the unexplored east coast of Fox Basin to determine evidence of an ancient Arctic culture distinct to the Toolik culture. This would be set out for him by Diamond Jenness of the National Museum of Canada where in Avvajja near Igloovik he was successful in excavating a Dorset site and established this culture as fact. The film is significant in that, to my knowledge, Graham Rowley's ten-minute amateur film, Inuit Scenes at Avvajja, Igloovik, is the only surviving footage of the British Canadian Arctic Expedition. Although this expedition was well documented with many surviving photographs, he probably had an insufficient amount of film stock with him to document. When Graham Rowley's friend contacted us in 2003 to let us know of Graham Rowley's failing condition and that he was searching for the footage he thought he had long since lost, he was successful in locating it due to the Provenance Information Note, which had been entered in the descriptive record by the archivist. The film, Inuit Scenes at Avvajja, Igloovik, made its way to Public Archives in 1973. The information indicated on one of the film box labels read from G.W. Rowley, care of D.D. Jenness, National Museum of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. This crucial information allowed Graham Rowley to trace back the film many decades later. Although some of the scenes from the film are described in his book, My Love Affair with the Arctic in 1996, Rowley's contribution to the descriptive film record was extremely significant as he annotated by screening the DVD copy of his film. Rowley died later that year in 2003. Without his annotations, we might never have known the names and spelling of the persons and communities seen in this film. Similarly to photographic images, the nature of archiving silent unpublished film becomes frustrating when crucial pieces of the puzzle, such as content information and contextual details, are lacking. Now I'm going to run the film, and it's about three minutes, and I apologize in advance for the picture quality. It is an amateur film. It was shot in 1936-1937, and this is a copy of a copy, so there's a generational loss with the copying, and it will be fairly grainy. I wonder if we could dim the lights, please? What you're seeing here is Graham Rowley, who is on the sailboat, Therese, which is a Roman Catholic mission ship. And again this information was provided by him just before he passed away in 2003. I believe this is [Amimiarjuarjuk] and I'm sorry for the pronunciation, or the mispronunciation. This boy is Ipilik, and he was also featured in the photograph with my title slide, and Graham Rowley had told us that he taught Ipilik how to swim. I haven't included that clip with this compilation, but here he's … in the ten-minute film he actually puts this little raft together and I figure he's about eight years old, eight or nine years old, maybe not too much older. And he's fishing for some Arctic char. This is kind of a neat way to carry fish. (laughter) I believe this is [Penikpakituk]. This is [Kutik] I believe. This is [Ipilik] again. Father Basin an Oblate Missionary.

And I'll just stop it there because I want to speak about this woman, [Atta Gootilak]. I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing that properly [Atta Gootilak]. When I was preparing this presentation, I looked at her name in the description, I kept looking at her on film, and there was this connection that I felt, and I thought I need to explore this, and I did. And I found out that she's a very significant elder who survived a starvation in 1905 near Pond Inlet, and she lived to become an honoured resident of Igloolik. A 1992 documentary entitled [Atta Gootilak], her name, was made and produced by [Arnait Ikagurtijjit] Collective, and I just wanted to read a quote from a book called [Sagiuk] and I think that Dale and Donna Lynne had a cover of Sagiuk as part of their slide show, and this book explores the memories of three generations from grandmother to granddaughter and provides an excerpt about [Atta Gootilak], and this is the granddaughter speaking. She says, "Atta Gootilak, the whalers called her Queen of Igloolik, she had a headband that was made out of metal that they gave her. It was like a crown. She wore it on her forehead. It was very visible. When I was a young child, I used to try and find out what it was. She was my great aunt. She was my grandmother. When she remarried, Atta Gootilak and her new husband started traveling between Pond Inlet and Igloolik to trade. Looking back now, maybe it would be almost like a type of business they ran. People in Igloolik would give their fox skins to Atta Gootilak and her family to bring to Pond Inlet on trade for [kalunak] supplies. They didn't want anyone to be without supplies, ammunition, tea, sugar and flour. That is what hey started doing this business." Yes, yes. Tobacco. This oral history provides further contacts, lends a documentary connection and sheds further significant details on Graham Rowley's early silent film. The film, seen from an amateur-professional perspective, has grown into a means of expression to help document views, culture, beliefs that emerge directly from Inuit communities. It is the medium that provides Inuit with freedom of expression and a voice both behind the lens and front row centre. In a few moments, Madeline Ivalu, Inuit actress and filmmaker, will speak to you about her first-hand experience in working with the medium of film. Thank you. Merci.

Gisèle Jacob: As Carolyn mentioned we're privileged to have here Madeline Ivalu with us today to speak about film making in Nunavut. Madeline is the co-director of Before Tomorrow, the acclaimed film from Arniat Video Collective. As well as working in film, she's a story teller, a musician and writer and is closely involved in many other cultural initiatives in the North. Asking Madeline questions about her life and work is Rhoda Innuksuk, president of Pauktuuti, Inuit Women of Canada, but before, we'll begin by watching an excerpt of Madeline's film, Before Tomorrow.

(Applause)

Madeline Ivalu: … because we were going to use [20:20 Inuktitut] we had to relocate the filming to Puvirnituk, Nouveau Québec, Nunavik. We are trying to and attempting to show you the traditional life as it was before the arrival of the white man. We did not use any of the technology… I remember as a child we did not have the fuel oil or the fossil fuels. We lived with our seal lamp. We did not have prefab houses, wooden houses. We had tents, igloos, [20:58 Inuktitut] and sod houses. So for me it was fairly easy to do a traditional film because I have lived it. My parents lived it, and I have lived it in my youth. We have an interpreter here … in making this film. It was made … we had to move there, not making the film in Igloolik, so we made the film in Puvirnituk and we worked on it for four years. She also tried to make this film of how she grew up, how her life was when she was growing up, and she tried to make it realistic of Inuit culture, and she was the co-director and an actress, and we had to make this film in Puvirnituk because it was of the cold… we had to go on [22: 48 Inuktitut] and our water was too cold so that was one of the reasons why we made the film in Nunavik.

I want you to not only in memory remember the Inuit culture and the Inuit lifestyles. We want you to see it visually, hear the language as it was spoken. The elders grew up in Igloolik, we have met, the three of us, to see how we would restructure the language into the traditional language or rather the shaman's language or the traditional language and the clothing, as you can see, is a traditional clothes. At times it was very difficult. It was a very difficult task. There were some good moments, some very bad moments. Reaching back into the history that is no longer there, or the lifestyle, but we wanted to show it to you. This was something really unique because she was trying to make this into a better Inuktitut language. We would always have meetings every day, constantly talking about the dialogues with our Inuktitut language, which was really important. It was really challenging, but it was really good and she really enjoyed making this film.

Gisèle Jacob: It's very kind of you to explain the film, and I think that's what people want to hear. But maybe we can do it with questions from the audience. Would that be helpful? Would you like to get questions from the audience about your film? Yes? Okay, we'll do that. I have a question. Is this your first… is this a feature length film and is this your first?

Madeline Ivalu: Yes. That was my first one. It was quite lengthy. Sometimes we would work hard to revise it in between. Can you hear me? We have two interpreters at the same time. … the longest length we've made, but we also have been working with short documentaries in the past, but this is one of the first feature films that we made.

Gisèle Jacob: Thank you. Any questions from people about this film? Yes? That's right. I'm remiss. I should have introduced you. Madeline is sitting in the middle. Madeline Ivalu. Yes, is Rhoda sitting to her right? Yes. And Rhoda, you are president of the Pauktuuti, Inuit Women of Canada. Is that an organization based here in Ottawa? Yes? And the young woman? I assume… is the young woman in the movie that we just saw? Is that you? No it's not you. You are?

Carol Kunuk: No, I'm Carol Kunuk. I was the assistant director for Before Tomorrow. I worked with Arniat Video Production. I do coordinating and producing, writing proposals for the ladies in making documentary.

Gisèle Jacob: Okay, thank you. So now you know who these wonderful women are. So, questions. No? Madeline, how can we see your movie? Where, how can we get to see the movie? How is it distributed?

Madeline Ivalu: We have a distributor. We're travelling around with the film now and won three awards so far with Toronto Film Festival and Imaginative Film Festival and we're kind of waiting from the Sundance Festival, and so we're travelling around with it until it's released.

Gisèle Jacob: Oh, wonderful. And Rhoda would you like to say a few words about your organization and perhaps your involvement in this film?

Rhoda Innuksuk: Now we're just hosting her stay in Ottawa. Of course we do support her work, as women, we do support what all women do and produce. This is something we're proud of.

Gisèle Jacob: Yes, yes, I'm sure. Thank you. Yes, ah. I have people lined up at the microphone. Wonderful. Yes, please, go ahead.

Audience Member: My question is how did you film the underwater scenes?

Madeline Ivalu: We had two divers who are doing the films. They were diving to take pictures, as you can imagine. People from Montreal who are scuba divers, and we created an equipment for underwater scene, so that's how it was... We did that during summer time because it wasn't too cold then.

Audience Member: Christine took my question, so, I've got another one, though. In seeing the film, of the underwater scene just a few minutes ago, it was just so incredibly beautiful and I was wondering how that happened. I was also wondering… you said that the film took four years to make and not in your own community and how much traveling did that involve and I assume, logistically speaking, it would have been really difficult and financially expensive to go between your community and in Nunavut and to make the film and to bring a film crew and everybody.

Madeline Ivalu: Yes, we did a lot of travelling. We had schedules in different seasons. It took us a year to make this film and to travel in and out, back home, and we had over 63 employees in this production.

Gisèle Jacob: Big production. Yes. Hi.

Audience Member: Hi, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about the message of the film and how you decided or why you decided to create this story and share it with others?

Madeline Ivalu: The film has a script. It was… we thought it was appropriate for filming, for a script for a film, so we took it to Montreal. This person who is interpreting for me was our interpreter and translator to Inuktitut for us, but unilingual. We would have to read it over, over and over. I'm talking about the script, and once we understood it, it was beginning to be more enjoyable. I thought… we chose this story or the film that we were going to do to show the people, but I would be writing and the person next to me was writing, speaking and I would be writing, and that's how we did it. We had to coordinate. We had to work together on it to produce it. It was good to work with.

Gisèle Jacob: Are you going to… yes, please.

Madeline Ivalu: Our director, Marie-Helene Cousineau, who also is the director and she works with us and we decided to make this script of Before Tomorrow since Mary-Helene brought it up, and they thought it would be a good feature film. We did all the translating. They did the corrections of the languages and actions and that's how they started to make the script.

Gisèle Jacob: Okay. One more question. Yes. Go ahead.

Audience Member: I'm not directing this to [34:46 Inuktitut], but I do want to go back to the silent film, back to Graham Rowley [34:54 Inuktitut] had filmed. And just a bit of oral history because oral history is alive and well. That beautiful young man, eight years old that you saw, was Rhoda Innuksuk's father. Now, that's oral history. You also saw my great grandmother, [35:15 Inuktitut], and I believe that Mr. Rowley was said to have been adopted into the family by Atta Gootilak and [35:26 Inukitut], so the people that are important in his life are in the video, and I felt that, well, they don't know this and they should. So oral history for you to continue with the silent film. Thank you.

Gisèle Jacob: Thank you. No, thank you, that was very interesting. Carolyn, do you want to say just a few words?

Carolyn Forcier-Holloway: Thanks very much for that. I was hoping that it would generate some comments and, actually, I did further reading on Graham Rowley and there is a nice obituary in one of the… I think it's the Arctic Magazine, quite a long article, and it talks about how he stayed in touch with Ipilik as he would go back, as he would return to the area with his daughter and wife because she was also an archaeologist and they would have summer field trips there and so he kept in touch with… going back every year so it was really nice to hear that, and there were also nice photographs in that article. But, thank you very much for that information. It's always… it's always difficult with either photographs, because they don't speak, and silent film, because it doesn't speak either, and it's… your comments are much appreciated and if you have any more information, I can give you my card. Thank you.

Gisèle Jacob: Okay, thank you. And thank you very much and congratulations on your film. I look forward to seeing the full length of it, and thank you for joining this afternoon. Nakurmiik.