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Climate change put on film

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Nunavut Arctic College Learning Centre is scheduled to host a special event involving the Nanisiniq Arviat History Project this coming week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Arviat's Jordan Konek will have three of his efforts shown during the Qaujimajatuqangit Film Festival in Arviat in September of 2011. - photo courtesy of April Dutheil

The Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Film Festival will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, with works done by the Nanisiniq group, as well as Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Mauro.

The films will be seen simultaneously at Toronto's York University.

A festival objective is to highlight Inuit youth researchers Jordan Konek, Curtis Konek and Amy Owingayak's trip to the 17th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, this coming November, and to raise awareness among Inuit communities on the importance of having an Inuit voice at the conference.

After the festival, the Arviat youths will be connected with the Toronto audience for a questionandanswer period.

The online event will feature a chat room and Twitter feed for international participation.

Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change by Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Mauro will be shown at the Arviat festival, as well as three works by Jordan Konek: Experiencing Climate Change from the Perspectives of Inuit Elders and Youth; Introduction to Nanisiniq; and the short, humorous video, Martha's Gang.

The youths have ambitious goals for Durban, wanting to show the world the Inuit viewpoint should be acknowledged and respected, and that everyone working together can make a difference.

They intend to learn what others are doing to address climate change, health and environmental issues in their communities, as well as represent the Inuit perspective on climate change, and show people Inuit should have a say in how climate change is affecting their communities.

While the three are eager to listen to what the leaders in climate-change issues want to achieve, follow through with their goals and learn from them, they also want to add their own youthful ideas, and contribute new perspectives and solutions.

They're preparing a sideevent workshop and/or booth on Inuit climate-change issues for the conference, and plan to hold educational events in Arviat as well as a practice presentation for the community.

When they return from Durban, they will hold another community event to share what they've learned.

They also plan to make a documentary film about their experiences in Durban to serve as an example of indigenous democracy and the power of youth.

Jordan, 22, said he first wanted to join the Nanisiniq Arviat History Project to travel and make money.

However, he said, as the project progressed he began looking at Inuit history more than he ever had before.

"Now that I've experienced Inuit history, knowledge and tradition, it's become far more important to me," said Jordan.

"One day I was sitting on the couch, when my grandpa came out of his room and said the wind seems to be coming from the east more often now.

"I didn't have any paper, so I looked around until I found a napkin to write down what he said.

"As soon as he said it, I immediately had to write it down because that's how important research and Inuit observations have become to me."

Jordan said he's grown to appreciate how important Inuit knowledge is in regards to climate change by interviewing people.

He said through talking with elders, he's come to realize Inuit have a lot to say on the subject.

"The world should hear and know the perspective of Inuit who are actually experiencing climate change.

"We're looking to organizations to help us with funding for the Durban conference, so we can go and show them what Inuit think about climate change."

Sept. 27 is a big night for Jordan, and he's excited about the link to York University from Arviat.

He said while the films are quite serious in nature, Martha's Gang should put some smiles on people's faces.

The piece has already received more than 1,000 views over three months on YouTube.

"It's a video I put together of elder Martha Okotak dancing to the music today's young people listen to at a teen dance and it's become pretty famous.

"People find it pretty funny, so I'm hoping everyone will enjoy it.

"Our funding from the University of British Columbia (UBC) is about to run out for the history project, but I'm hoping we can go on with Inuit taking over and controlling it.

"I'm very thankful for the UBC people coming here, taking part and helping us with the project, and I'm hoping we can continue."

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