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Magic with a message: Brian Glow entertains for laughs, life and wellness

Comedic magician Brian Glow is on a double mission – he devotes himself to empowering youth and he entertains adult crowds worldwide as an illusionist.

photo courtesy of Brian Glow
Comedic magician and anti-bullying/suicide prevention champion Brian Glow, centre, poses with the students at Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake, where he performed and shared his special brand of empowerment.

Glow is touring Nunavut's three regions in both capacities – as advocate and entertainer – including performing a fundraiser in Iqaluit May 12 for the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line.

Adults attending the evening show should expect a fabulous fun time, even if he's not able to bring up his "giant illusion show."

"Throughout this entire tour, I've been trying to get the word out about the help line. In every single community I go to now, we talk about it. I think it's a phenomenal resource in the North that most people either don't know or have forgotten about, and should know about," he said.

The magician and advocate had several friends die by suicide, and he thinks if that resource had been available to them they might be alive today.

"It was very affecting to me when I was younger," said the 61-year-old.

"Both of them were bullied like I was. I know closely how that affects people."

Meanwhile, his school and community tour is for young people.

"Most of my work is with major corporations around the world, in 44 countries – the Hewlett-Packards and Hondas and Fords and Apples, those kinds of companies – and I've become quite expert at messaging of products into magic tricks," said Glow, who has also been travelling to remote communities since the '70s, performing in more than 100 First Nation communities in Canada as well as cities, towns and hamlets throughout the Canadian Arctic.

"All those years I've always taken messaging and melded it with magic to make it far more indelible. It's completely memorable because you're marrying an image with a thought and when you do that you create this eidetic imagery that stays with you," he said.

And that's the crux of his shows for young people – he makes them laugh and helps them to understand they are powerful.

"Bullies feed off an imbalance of power. When a kid is cowering from a bully, they feed on that energy. It just makes them emboldened to do more and more and more. When they can't get that feedback, when a kid doesn't react, or agrees, suddenly the tables are turned and the power balance starts to equal out," he said.

"This is one of the key precepts to fight bullying in schools. It's an actionable event the kids can take away right from that show that day and use with no training or anything."

photo courtesy of Brian Glow
Magician Brian Glow spreads his anti-bullying message at Gjoa Haven's Quqshuun Ilihakvik during his Nunavut-wide tour.

Example: Glow talks about how a particular bully used to steal his lunch money.

"Kid kept stealing my money. As my illustration I bring a kid up and I ask him if he's got money and we start having this fun thing where we're yelling at each other. 'Give me your money.' 'No, I won't.' And I start pulling coins from him from all over and he starts reaching into the air and pulling out coins. Finally, there are showers of coins coming from his nose. It's funny," he said.

"This is a fun show. They're screaming and yelling and having so much fun. This is not a downer show. This is a positive, motivating show. You want it to stick and no emotion is more powerful than comedy."

Duane Wilson, vice president of stakeholder relations for Arctic Co-operatives Ltd, is largely responsible for bringing together the various people and companies responsible for this tour of the territory: the help line's executive director Sheila Levy, David DeVos' Influencers Motivating Influencers, which sees popular entertainers deliver mental health, goal setting, self-esteem and anti-bullying messages, First Air, Calm Air, The Co-operators and First Nations Bank.

"Co-op members are people, people in communities. We know first-hand the challenge and trauma in communities that suicide and mental health problems bring to people," Wilson said.

"I think everyone would acknowledge that what it's going to take is so big, no one has mastered it. We look at it from the perspective of saying 'What can we do?' What we can do is member Co-ops can help facilitate these sorts of programs by contributing meals in-kind, accommodations in-kind and playing an active role in connecting people. And do it in such a way that everyone sees the benefit in working together."

Help-line executive director Sheila Levy, who met Wilson at the Northern Lights Trade Show, is grateful, because every little bit helps keep the line open for callers.

"We do get some support from the government but we definitely need more than what we get so we are doing fundraising all the time in order to keep our program alive and well," said Levy.

Levy got the Frobisher Inn on board for Glow's Iqaluit visit.

After performing at four schools May 10 and 11, Glow will give two shows at the Frobisher – one for the whole family Saturday afternoon and one for adults in the evening, which will include a silent auction and cool prizes.

Next up are school and community shows in Clyde River, Resolute Bay, Arctic Bay, and possibly Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet.

If you need to talk

Kamatsiaqtut Help Line:

Iqaluit: 979-3333

Outside Iqaluit: 800-265-3333

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.