With Canada 150 funding, the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA) has so far approved funding for 16 projects in 11 communities.
The $350,000 of federal funding was first announced in October of last year by Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly while she visited Nunavut’s capital.
“The funding is specifically for communities outside of Iqaluit,” said coordinator Thomas Rohner.
“The idea was to fund as many celebrations and projects that bring the whole community together as possible across the territory.”
Across the nation, indigenous peoples have stood up to speak out against the concept of Canada 150, and closer to home in Iqaluit documentary filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril made the point at a Walrus Talks event in Iqaluit that Inuit have been here for much longer than confederation with her talk titled Canada 15000.
Rohner says he understands the political protest against Canada 150.
“But there’s a lot of good things the communities can do with this money,” he said.
Theresie Tungilik, a Rankin Inlet elder and hamlet councilor, says there are a lot of good reasons to celebrate confederation.
“I think we need to celebrate it because first of all it’s an honour to live in a peaceful country. Yes, we Inuit may have a bad past, with assimilation and residential school abuse, but the thing is Inuit … have lived millennia in this country before it became known as Canada,” she said.
“We can be heard now, we now have every right to fight for our rights and I think that’s one of the greatest things we have woken up to.”
The community is celebrating its multicultural diversity with fashion food and entertainment during the Canada Day weekend.
“I really like that idea because Rankin Inlet is a multicultural community. What I’m most interested and happy about is the fashion show because we can show the traditional Inuit clothing, and we can have another fashion show, very modern, what’s latest now,” said Tungilik.
“I think that would really show what Rankin has been and has become, and is very strong at.”
NACA received more than two dozen proposals, each of which were assessed by a committee made up of Canada 150 partners: Nunavut Film, Nunavut Tourism, Alianait and the Inuit Heritage Trust.
Rohner says there is a wide range of activities taking place throughout the year.
“A lot of them are Canada Day celebrations, but there was no requirement to have it on Canada Day,” he said.
“Some of the proposals the committee approved include film projects, short films, documentaries. A lot of the proposals include activities that bring elders and youth together. Some of those are art projects, but a lot are traditional harvesting trips.”
The community of Kuglutuk opted for an add-on to their 40th annual Frolics Festival April 18 to 23. With the NACA funding, they invited Artcirq performers from Iglulik to conduct an anti-suicide workshop, as well as perform for the community.
The community of Pangnirtung is ambitious.
“They have all sorts of things going on – a music camp, a mural project, a film project,” said Rohner.
Arctic Bay has so far held a fishing derby and a feast over the May long weekend. But plans are also in the works for a documentary, a mural and a harvesting trip with elder and youth for a feast with the idea of preserving and celebrating Inuit culture.
“In Cambridge Bay, the mayor’s youth council is doing a documentary film project on local history, and they’re going to have a red carpet event for the premiere in the fall,” said Rohner.
There are still applications to be approved and Rohner says more community projects will be supported.
Communities approved for Canada 150 projects through the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association:
Kugaaruk – The way we were, then and now (June 30 to July 2)
Arviat – Inumariit Music and Arts Festival (August)
Taloyoak – Canada 150 celebrations (July 1)
Kuglutuk – Frolics Festival (April)
Kimmirut – Canada 150 celebrations (July 1)
Pangnirtung – Canada 150 celebrations (June to August)
Cape Dorset – Mural for community hall (July to September)
Rankin Inlet – Multi-cultural Canada 150 celebrations (June 29 to July 1)
Arctic Bay – Preserving and celebrating culture (May and August)
Cambridge Bay – Why we Wave, a film (May to October)
Gjoa Haven – on-the land trip, Nunavut and Canada celebration (August)