Loss of language remains an issue close to the heart of many Inuit. To explain the loss of language within one’s own lifetime can be difficult, said Megan Kyak-Monteith, the co-director and animator of Grape Soda in the Parking Lot.
Taqralik Partridge, who also co-directs, tells the story of the loss of language to English within her own family, losing Gaelic through the loss of her grandmother and her father’s troubles keeping Inuktitut alive in himself.
“My father, sent away with tuberculosis for years and years, lost his language so he spoke only English,” said Partridge in the short film. “Found his tongue again but never lost the taste of English in his mouth.”
The short film explores Partidge’s memories with her relatives, being Inuk and losing Inuktitut and an Inuk’s relationship with English.
The matter of losing one’s own language also resonated with Kyak-Monteith, who’s Inuk but also part Scottish.
“When I was a kid back home when I could understand Inuktitut, to being able to understand it but not speak it, then now not being able to understand it. It’s nice to see other people put it into words, things I feel I still don’t know how to explain,” said Kyak-Monteith, who’s originally from Pond Inlet.
“People like my great grandmother who only spoke Inuktitut and I only speak English now. A lot of that has to do with me moving down south,” she added.
“I think the whole thing has to do with reconnecting to Inuktitut, relearning it and what it means to her and I felt really attached to that as well.”
In recent years she started working more with animation, previously working on another project in 2019.
“I usually work on oil paintings and started doing animations. I tried using materials I felt more comfortable using,” said Kyak-Monteith.
She used oil pastels for her background, put a pane of glass on top, set up the camera on top and painted on the glass, taking pictures of each frame and editing as necessary. The process is a little messy, but she’s comfortable with it, she said.
“It took a while preparing for it, but now I think I’m ready to do more animations in the future.”
The eight-minute short film Grape Soda in the Parking Lot is a part of the CBC Gem series How to Lose Everything, a series of animated short films by Indigenous peoples across Canada exploring the loss of their languages. Grape Soda in the Parking Lot is also available in Inuktitut.
The Pond Inlet filmmaker said she was able to meet with the other filmmakers in this series, and said she was proud to work with ”people I really admire as animators and writers.”
”It’s really nice to know we’re all making work together, all being Indigenous, all across Canada.”