Among Canada’s Indigenous peoples are the Inuit, who are technically considered separate from our more locally encountered First Nations. Because most of us don’t get up to Nunavut and destinations north very often, Inuit art, film, and culture has to come to us. Montreal is lucky that the FOFA gallery is home to Tillitarniit, a festival featuring Inuit storytellers, art works, and more, curated by Inuk curator Asinnajaq in partnership with the Avataq Cultural Institute. This year’s theme is “It is said to happen from time to time,” which is the traditional way of opening an Inuk story — setting it not in the past (our “once upon a time”), but as an ongoing cyclical event.
In particular, Elisapee Inukpuk’s dolls related to 26 Inuit stories and songs are the focus of the art exhibition. Inukpuk takes spring grass as a base for the doll, and then sews the body together using caribou and sealskin. Adding clothing turns the doll into a person. At the exhibition opening, storytellers will be present to further animate the dolls’ stories.
In addition to art, a film series takes place daily. The line-up includes recent works, like Echo Henoche’s Shaman and Roselynn Akulukjuk’s The Owl and the Lemming, as well as the now-classic Ataranjurat (the Fast Runner).
Finally, three performers showcase their skills. Expect to see Evie Mark, a throat singer and storyteller, Beatrice Deer, a singer songwriter, and the throat singing duo of the Sila Singers.
The festival is an excellent opportunity to connect with the culture of the North and remind those of us in the south of the great diversity of this country and its many peoples.
Tillitarniit “It is said to happen from time to time” Inuit Arts Festival takes place August 2 to August 4, from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. daily at the FOFA Gallery (1515 St. Catherine West). Further details HERE.