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Rita Claire and husky Qimmiq guide young viewers through learning adventures in Anaana’s Tent

Pre-schoolers will have some home-grown Saturday morning viewing to tune into when Anaana's Tent hits APTN May 12.

photo courtesy of Taqqut Productions Inc.
Host of Anaana's Tent Rita Claire Mike-Murphy shows her friend Qimmiq, performed by puppeteer Ippiksaut Friesen, a bit of love on set. The new Inuktitut show for two- to five-year-olds premieres bright and early on APTN May 12.

The new kids' show stars Rita Claire Mike-Murphy who, since shooting wrapped up early last year, is gaining widespread attention and accolades as Riit with the release of her self-titled album last spring.

"Being on set, in front of the camera, that was new to me. I got pretty comfortable pretty quick," said Mike-Murphy, adding she spoke into the camera as though she was speaking to a real child.

Except when she talked with her husky buddy Qimmiq, performed by puppeteer Ippiksaut Friesen.

"It was cool. Ippiksaut, she's very good at that stuff. It wasn't weird at all because she's so good that she makes the puppet seem so realistic," said Mike-Murphy.

"I'm very proud and honoured that I was able to host the TV show in Inuktitut, which I think is going to be a huge benefit for kids in pre-school."

It's summertime in the Arctic, and host Rita Claire sets up camp at her mother's tent on the land. With the help of her old husky, Qimmiq, and a cast of special friends, she sings songs, plays games, reads stories and learns new words in Inuktitut, according to the synopsis.

photo courtesy of Taqqut Productions Inc.
Host Rita Claire Mike-Murphy, left, and narrator Celina Kalluk will welcome young television viewers to Anaana's Tent, a new television show for pre-schoolers premiering May 12 on APTN.

The half-hour show also features narrator Celina Kalluk, who interacts with animated characters  and appears as a musical guest. Other guests include Beatrice Deer, Looee Arreak, Meeka Arnakaq and The Jerry Cans.

"Anaana's Tent teaches Inuit values of kindness, friendship, patience and environmental stewardship," states Taqqut Productions Inc., an Iqaluit film and television production company.

Writer and director Nadia Mike explains each episode is built around a theme, such as dogs, fishing, Inuit clothing, Arctic plants, counting and helping out. There are 13 episodes.

Mike, a former teacher, lists as one of her passions creating resources for Nunavut. She authored children's picture books Leah’s Mustache Party, Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing – based on her short animated film of the same name – and The Muskox and the Caribou.

In terms of challenges, Mike says at the top of the list was getting all the scripts written on time.

"And ensuring they were translated on time."

Each Anaana's Tent episode was also shot in English for a southern audience. The initial writing was sometimes in Inuktitut and sometimes in English.

"Also, it was everybody's first time working together on a production. It was Rita Claire's first time acting, my first time directing."

Mike says everyone was proud of the project.

"Knowing it's going to be airing over the weekend, it's amazing."

Mike says one outcome the production team wants is for children to learn before kindergarten.

"Language was a big part of it. Numeracy was another. And just learning your Inuit values and focusing on IQ (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) principles. Being prepared on the land. There were lots of different themes throughout the episodes," said Mike.

"It was exciting all around because we're doing something very unique. I hope everyone enjoys it. It couldn't have happened without the community, everyone who agreed to be on the show. Especially the little kids … We pulled in little kids to be a part of the filming."

The team is hopeful a second season will soon be in the works.

The people bringing Anaana's Tent to Nunavut children:

A Taqqut Productions Inc. production

Directors: Roselynn Akulukjuk, Nadia Mike, Neil Christopher, Philip Eddolls, Daniel Christopher and Patrick Beland

Writers: Nadia Mike, Roselynn Akulukjuk, Neil Christopher and Daniel Christopher, William Flaherty, Maren Vsetula, Champagne Brittany Choquer, Philip Eddolls and Martha Grant

Producers: Louise Flaherty, Neil Christopher and Daniel Christopher

Host: Rita Claire Mike-Murphy

Music: The Jerry Cans, Andrew Morrison and Kathleen Merritt