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I’ve been asked if there were movies people could watch about the way of life in Nunavut.  Here is what I have found.

Click on the links to watch the following videos online (sorry I couldn’t find the code to upload them here):

1920-1921:  Nanook of the North:  (1:18:26) was filmed in Port Harrison, Northern Quebec.  It was the first successful documentary ever made, and was a true benchmark for ethnographic film.  The film brought an entirely unknown culture to the western world.  It documents one year in the life of Nanook, an Eskimo (Inuit) and his family, and describes the trading, hunting, fishing and migrations of a group barely touched by industrial technology.  It was widely shown and praised as the first full-length, anthropological documentary in cinematographic history.

1953:  Angotee: The Story of an Eskimo Boy: (31 mins):  This film follows the events of a man’s growth from birth to maturity in the eastern Arctic. Here we see how an Inuit baby is born, how the young child is treated, how he learns the arts of the hunter, grows to manhood and marries.

1991:  Starting Fire with Gunpowder:  (57 mins):  The Inuit have ingeniously turned television into an instrument for preserving their language, values and traditions, and a voice with which to address their social and political concerns. This film chronicles the origins and achievements of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, a model for aboriginal broadcasters the world over.

1995 Nunavut – Our Land: is a 13-part dramatic television series which brings to life the people, setting and continuing story of how Inuit in the Igloolik region of the Canadian Arctic lived on the land in the 40s.  Based on true stories of present-day Elders, who still remember their early days growing up just before government and settlement life begun, Nunavut recreates a nomadic lifestyle that no longer exists today.

2001:  Kikkik:  (52 mins) It is taking decades for Canada to come to terms with its history in the Arctic, and with its relationship to all its indigenous people. “Kikkik” is the story of government mistakes and neglect, of starvation, murder, freezing death, but, in the end, a kind of justice that helps restore our faith in human decency. In 1958, the Inuit woman Kikkik was charged with murder and criminal negligence leading to the death of her child. Her trial and our visit back to the place and to Kikkik’s children confront us with a legacy that’s still a challenge for Canada.

Enjoy the following movies below:

1952:  Land of the Long Day (38 mins):  This short documentary journeys to Baffin Island. For four months in the summer, the Arctic has continuous daylight. During this time, provisions must be made for the long dark winter ahead. Idlouk, an Inuit hunter, recounts his experiences living in this northern land, where he hunts seal, walrus, whales and polar bears, among other animals. His wife, children and elderly parents each have their own work to do in their unending struggle to survive in this harsh land.


Land of the Long Day by Douglas Wilkinson, National Film Board of Canada

1963:  Eskimo Artist: Kenojuak:  (20 mins)  This documentary shows how an Inuit artist’s drawings are transferred to stone, printed and sold. Kenojuak Ashevak became the first woman involved with the printmaking co-operative in Cape Dorset. This film was nominated for the 1963 Documentary Short Subject Oscar.


Eskimo Artist: Kenojuak by John Feeney, National Film Board of Canada

1988 Qaggiq (Gathering Place) (58 mins): A late-winter Inuit camp in the 1930’s. Four families build a qaggiq, a large communal igloo, to celebrate the coming of spring with games, singing and drum dancing. A young man seeks a wife. The girl’s father says no, but her mother says yes.


Nunaqpa (Going Inland) (58 mins):  Summer in the 1930’s. For Igloolik Inuit, it is the time of Nunaqpa, ‘going inland,’ the long walk in search of summer-fat caribou to catch enough meat for the hard winter ahead. Two families leave for the hunt, while the old couple waits by the shore for their return. 

1993:  Keeping Our Stories Alive: The Sculpture of Canada’s Inuit (59 mins):  This documentary presents the Inuit sculpture in Nunatsiaq, Canada’s North, the land and the artists. Demonstrates the art of these Inuit carvers.


Keeping our Stories Alive: Inuit Sculpture (National Gallery) from Denise Withers on Vimeo.


2003:  If the Weather Permits:  (28 mins):  This short documentary studies life in the village of Kangirsujuaq, in Nunavik. In this community lying on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, children’s laughter fills the streets while the old people ponder the passage of time. They are nomads of the wide-open spaces who are trying to get used to the strange feeling of staying put. Here, teenagers lap up “southern” culture and, to kill time, play golf on the tundra. Here, the elders are slowly dying, while their entire culture seems to be fading away.


If the Weather Permits by Elisapie Isaac, National Film Board of Canada

2004:  Inuuvunga: I Am Inuk, I Am Alive: (58 mins):  In this feature-length documentary, 8 Inuit teens with cameras offer a vibrant and contemporary view of life in Canada’s North. They also use their newly acquired film skills to confront a broad range of issues, from the widening communication gap between youth and their elders to the loss of their peers to suicide. In Inuktitut with English subtitles.


Inuuvunga – I Am Inuk, I Am Alive by Mila Aung-Thwin by Daniel Cross by Bobby Echalook by Brett Gaylor by Sarah Idlout by Laura Iqaluk by Linus Kasudluak by Willia Ningeok by Caroline Ningiuk by Dora Ohaituk & by Rita-Lucy Ohaituk, National Film Board of Canada

2008:  Legends and Life of the Inuit (3 mins):  As part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2008 Filmhouse in Edinburgh, in partnership withu eth Scttish Storytelling Centre hosted a workshop, based on the film “The Legends and Lifes of the Inuit”. Participants created their own story and transformed it into a film, with storyteller Michael Williams.


2009 People of the Seal: (1 hr 12 mins):  This award-winning film explores the centuries-old connection between the northern fur seal and the natives of Alaska’s Pribilof and Aleutian Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea. It traces five generations of one family’s history in this remote part of the world, weaving together native, Russian, and American cultural threads. At the heart of the story, are the fur seals. Like the Unangan, the fur seals are struggling to survive. As Aquilina says, ‘if they’re not here, then we won’t be either.



2011 The Place where God Began: (7 mins):   In the summer of 2011, The Nature Conservancy’s lead scientist went on an expedition through one of Canada’s most pristine areas with young members of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. They traveled by canoe along the Thelon River ending in North America’s largest and most remote wildlife refuge, the Thelon Game Sanctuary.



2012:  (68 mins)  Bill Ekomiak, an Inuit (Eskimo) elder and a Baha’i from Canada. He is also an accomplished entertainer, stone carver, storyteller and fiddler.  Over a growing concern about the worsening state of the world he decided to go on a speaking tour to talk to people.



1999:  Songs in Stone (2 mins):  This film uses childhood memories as a prism through which to see the history of the times and the fascinating and complex development of Inuit Art over the last half century. A panoply of ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ voices speak of the economic and social circumstances which lead to the birth of the movement to bring Inuit art to the rest of the world. We have an opportunity to meet pivotal figures in the development of Inuit Art. Songs in Stone has won a number of prestigious awards and touched the hearts of many.


2003:  Snow Walker:  (10 movie clips – click on title to watch)  Charles Martin Smith’s romantic adventure film The Snow Walker concerns a brave risk-taking pilot (Barry Pepper) and an Inuit woman in frail health who is his passenger. When the pair experience a plane crash, each is forced to learn from and help the other in order to survive the variety of obstacles the harsh landscape throws in their path.

Other movies available for sale:

 1967:  Netsilik Series:  A film series in 21 half-hour parts reveals the reality of traditional Eskimo life before the European acculturation. The Netsilik Eskimos of the Pelly Bay region in the Canadian Arctic had long lived apart from other people and had depended entirely on the land and their own ingenuity to sustain life through the rigors of the Arctic year.  The effect of this film series is that of a field trip where students can observe Eskimo ways at their leisure and form their own impressions. The pace is unhurried; many of the Eskimo activities are shown in close detail. The films are useful for courses in economic anthropology, development of technology and North American aboriginal cultures, in general studies of the circumpolar culture area, as well as for high school and upper elementary grades. This series is a part of the widely used elementary social studies curriculum, Man:  A Course of Study.

1970:  The Eskimo: Fight for Life:  An authentic record of the life of the Netsilik Inuit of the Pelly Bay region of the Canadian Arctic during their last migratory camp. It shows the old Inuit culture, the communal life of the seal hunters and their families, and their complete adaptation to their environment. This film was produced, with commentary, from footage brought out of the Arctic by anthropologists.

1973:  Inuit Arts: Animation from Cape Dorset:  This film is a collection of short animated sequences produced by Inuit of the Cape Dorset (Baffin Island) Film Animation Workshop, which was established to teach to northern people a new and novel form of creative expression. The results, as shown here, reveal an easy adaptation to the medium, a keen sense of observation and an underlying humor, whether the subject be fact or fancy. There is some explanation in English and some in Inuktitut.

1974:  Sananguat: Inuit Masterworks:  An exhibition of Inuit carvings from public and private collections brought together by the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council. This is the true art of the Inuit, the expression in stone, ivory and bone of their life and the animal co-dwellers of their Arctic domain. Alternated with close-ups of the exhibits are views of the daily life in the Iglootik settlement of the Northwest Territories, where the outdoor scenes were filmed.

1981:  Magic in the Sky: The film documents the establishment of the first Inuit-language television network, called Inukshuk, which began broadcasting to six Inuit communities in December, 1980, utilizing the Anik B communications satellite. The Inuit’s efforts to create an indigenous television network mirrors the struggle of any culture trying to preserve its unique identity.

1990:  Between Two Worlds:  Unknown to most Canadians today, Joseph Idlout was once the world’s most famous Inuit.The subject of films and books, Idlout was one of the Inuit hunters pictured for many years on the back of Canada’s $2 bill. Idlout became a symbol of his people, the heroic myth that fascinated the white imagination. In this film Idlout’s son, Peter Paniloo, takes us on a journey through his father’s life. Idlout, the great hunter, becomes a fox-fur trapper and guide. He gets caught up in the white world, trying to improve his family’s fortunes. Finally, Joseph Idlout does not know who he is or where he belongs. He is “between two worlds.” Joseph Idlout could never have imagined the changes that would overwhelm his North. But he was one of its first casualties.

1995:  Broken Promises: High Arctic Relocation:  In the summer of 1953, the Canadian government relocated seven Inuit families from Northern Quebec to the High Arctic. They were promised an abundance of game and fish, with the assurance that if things didn’t work out, they could return home after two years. Two years later, another 35 people joined them. There they suffered from hunger, extreme cold, sickness, alcoholism and poverty. It would bethirty years before any of them saw their ancestral lands again. Interviews with survivors are combined with archival footage and documents to tell the poignant story of a people whose lives were nearly destroyed by their own government’s broken promises.

1998:  Journey to Nunavut: Amarok’s Song:  This is the story of the Caribou Inuit family who were Canada’s last nomads. With the voices of three generations, they tell of their journey from an independent life hunting on the Keewatin tundra to the present, when they take the reins of the new territory of Nunavut on April 1, 1999.  Elders, led by 80-year-old Amarok and his wife, Elizabeth, take us back to a time marked by incredible hardship, pride and a startling spiritual universe. Martin’s generation has a foot in each world: they have borne the brunt of cultural clashes between southern and Inuit societies–and they are the ones who will set the course for their new homeland. Teens and young adults who were born in the settlements and grew up with satellite TV speak through their own short videos stories, shot by students at Baker Lake High School.

1999:  Journey to Nunavut – the Kreelak Story:   This film tells the remarkable story of a Caribou Inuit family who were Canada’s last nomads. Martin and his older brothers and sisters tell of their early life hunting on the tundra to the present, when they take the reins of the new territory of Nunavut on April 1, 1999. Martin Kreelak speaks for the generation that has borne the brunt of cultural clashes between southern and Inuit societies–they are the ones who will set the course for their new homeland. Martin’s neighbors, 80-year-old Amarok and his wife, Elizabeth, take us back to a time marked by incredible hardship, pride and a spiritual universe shaped by the powerful Arctic environment. History, music, legend and irreverent humor offer a moving tribute to people preparing to enter a new era.

1999:  Stories of Tuktu:  Five videos recalling traditional Inuit ways of life, using real footage of the Netsilik people of Pelly Bay to illustrate the tales told by Tuktu, a fictional elder.

2001:  Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner):  This is Canada’s first feature-length fiction film written, produced, directed, and acted by Inuit. An exciting action thriller set in ancient Igloolik, the film unfolds as a life-threatening struggle between powerful natural and supernatural characters.  Atanarjuat gives international audiences a more authentic view of Inuit culture and oral tradition than ever before, from the inside and through Inuit eyes.

2003:  My Brand New Life – Inuit Games: Eric, a young athlete from Montreal, excels at soccer, hockey and cycling, but when he sets out for the Arctic to take part in the traditional Inuit Games, he discovers that his skills for knuckle-jumping and high-kicking are minimal. After a week of training in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Eric learns a lot more than Inuit sports. He brings back to Montreal a whole new perspective on life, sports and friendship.