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iNuit Blanche equals cultural fun

<span>Isabella Weetaluktuk</span>
<span>Isabella Weetaluktuk</span>

Always a flurry of activity, the downtown St. John’s scene has been especially saturated with interesting events this past weekend, with iNuit Blanche taking place at various locations around the city.

The “world’s first all-circumpolar, all-night festival of art, music, dance, performance, installation, food and film” took place Oct. 8. Unable to split into multiple persons to take in everything offered, I managed to make it to two iNuit Blanche events.

SunDogs, a four piece band from Nain, Labrador, wowed audiences at Distortion Oct. 7, closing out a night of heavy tunes with their brand of hard rock. The dance floor was packed, though not by your usual head-bangers. Us locals stood by the sidelines to take in SunDogs’ rock ‘n’ roll jams, nodding to each other to acknowledge blistering riffs and heavy breakdowns.

Playing a number of songs that paid homage to their homeland, the band proceeded to blow our brains out with three Metallica covers, showcasing their obvious musical skills.

After SunDogs closed out the night with “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” regular local show-goers awaited the opportunity to thank them for putting on such a great show.

The Christina Parker Gallery, while bustling, was a little less frenzied Saturday than the previous night’s metal show.

Inuk artist and filmmaker Isabella Weetaluktuk premiered her short film “Lucky Upinnaqursitik,” using photographs, animations, paintings and archival material, with haunting piano and sounds from nature.

Weetaluktuk was on hand to explain the film’s raison d’etre: it’s her answer to the insulting question, “Why would anyone want to live there?” — referring to northern Canada.

“It’s an insulting question because basically, at the core of what they’re asking, it’s ‘Why would you live there?’ ‘How do you live there?’ ‘Who is crazy enough to live there?’ For thousands of years, that (climate) has formed our way of life and our people,” she said of Inuit culture. “It’s hurtful … to have people ask that as if it’s a normal question to ask. It’s not just somewhere we adapted to. It’s somewhere we love.”

In the film, the artist remarks on “the beauty of the tundra that forms the lives of those I love,” and “the land, with the fire crackling and tea in my cup, belly full of fish, I am lucky.”

When asked about the show’s title, “Lucky Upinnaqursitik,” Weetaluktuk explained being lucky is the feeling that, although there are so many different cultures one can be born into, she was born into the Inuit culture.

Another indigenous artist, Jenni Laiti, participated in Saturday’s event with a text project titled “Take A Stone.” The Sámi “artivist” uses her art, she says, as a voice for the muted Mother Earth.

Her project, a page of text wrapped around a stone, draws inspiration from a quote by Sámi writer, musician and artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapåa: “Take a stone in your hand and close your fist around it until it starts to beat, live, speak and move.”

Hailing from Finland, Laiti aims to connect with Newfoundland and Labrador locals over a common bond: beautiful landscapes and coastal shores — and what we must do to protect them.

The small package served as an interesting take-home souvenir from the exhibit, a permanent keepsake from a whirlwind weekend of Inuit cultural events — which I’d now like to see more of, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The “world’s first all-circumpolar, all-night festival of art, music, dance, performance, installation, food and film” took place Oct. 8. Unable to split into multiple persons to take in everything offered, I managed to make it to two iNuit Blanche events.

SunDogs, a four piece band from Nain, Labrador, wowed audiences at Distortion Oct. 7, closing out a night of heavy tunes with their brand of hard rock. The dance floor was packed, though not by your usual head-bangers. Us locals stood by the sidelines to take in SunDogs’ rock ‘n’ roll jams, nodding to each other to acknowledge blistering riffs and heavy breakdowns.

Playing a number of songs that paid homage to their homeland, the band proceeded to blow our brains out with three Metallica covers, showcasing their obvious musical skills.

After SunDogs closed out the night with “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” regular local show-goers awaited the opportunity to thank them for putting on such a great show.

The Christina Parker Gallery, while bustling, was a little less frenzied Saturday than the previous night’s metal show.

Inuk artist and filmmaker Isabella Weetaluktuk premiered her short film “Lucky Upinnaqursitik,” using photographs, animations, paintings and archival material, with haunting piano and sounds from nature.

Weetaluktuk was on hand to explain the film’s raison d’etre: it’s her answer to the insulting question, “Why would anyone want to live there?” — referring to northern Canada.

“It’s an insulting question because basically, at the core of what they’re asking, it’s ‘Why would you live there?’ ‘How do you live there?’ ‘Who is crazy enough to live there?’ For thousands of years, that (climate) has formed our way of life and our people,” she said of Inuit culture. “It’s hurtful … to have people ask that as if it’s a normal question to ask. It’s not just somewhere we adapted to. It’s somewhere we love.”

In the film, the artist remarks on “the beauty of the tundra that forms the lives of those I love,” and “the land, with the fire crackling and tea in my cup, belly full of fish, I am lucky.”

When asked about the show’s title, “Lucky Upinnaqursitik,” Weetaluktuk explained being lucky is the feeling that, although there are so many different cultures one can be born into, she was born into the Inuit culture.

Another indigenous artist, Jenni Laiti, participated in Saturday’s event with a text project titled “Take A Stone.” The Sámi “artivist” uses her art, she says, as a voice for the muted Mother Earth.

Her project, a page of text wrapped around a stone, draws inspiration from a quote by Sámi writer, musician and artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapåa: “Take a stone in your hand and close your fist around it until it starts to beat, live, speak and move.”

Hailing from Finland, Laiti aims to connect with Newfoundland and Labrador locals over a common bond: beautiful landscapes and coastal shores — and what we must do to protect them.

The small package served as an interesting take-home souvenir from the exhibit, a permanent keepsake from a whirlwind weekend of Inuit cultural events — which I’d now like to see more of, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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