Get to know our Indigenous Canadians


    Canada’s 150th is cause for celebration. In this issue, above&beyond Magazine celebrates Canada’s sesquicentennial with a glimpse of some of the projects Canada’s northerners are involved in — bringing Canadians together in community-building events to celebrate and explore the Canadian indigenous identity.

    Dream Catchers

    The Dream Catchers is a Canada150 Signature event produced by Confederation Centre of the Arts and funded by the Government of Canada. The project began with youth arts workshops in each Canadian province and territory. In the North, workshops were held in Iqaluit, Nunavut; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; and Whitehorse, Yukon.

    Claire Mantta-Naedzo from Behchokǫ, NT, with her dream catcher. © Mary Francis Moore

    Young people joined workshop facilitators Nick Huard (Mi’kmaq artist), Watio Splicer (Mohawk artist), Mary Francis Moore (drama specialist) and Robert Guertin (videographer) to spend the day exploring hopes and dreams for their future, and the future of the country, with a focus on inclusion, the environment and Indigenous tradition. Participants also made their own dreamcatchers, which Nick Huard will use to create a giant national dreamcatcher.

    Inuit elder Natsiq welcomed the team to Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, Nunavut, offering a prayer of welcome and shared the role of the shaman in Inuit dream culture. Performance artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory delighted participants with traditional storytelling and discussed the importance of oral tradition in Inuit culture. As bannock was shared, participants talked about the loss of Indigenous languages and their frustrations on the slow implementation of Inuktitut into the school system. Using drama and role play, the grade nine art students explored different solutions to their language concerns.

    In Yellowknife, Dene practices were shared through the wonderful art installations and writings at Mildred Hall School. Through drama, the group explored the idea of taking a stand. Participants, with local composer Carmen Braden, wrote their own song about the power of using their voice. As they wove twine into their dreamcatchers, youth from Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife discussed dreams and how often taking the first step is the hardest. Musician and teacher Miranda Currie also shared her journey in overcoming adversity on the path to realizing dreams.

    Whitehorse was an emotional experience as it marked the end of the workshops. Local elder, Annie Smith, welcomed the team and acknowledged the miles they had travelled and the stories gathered along the way. B-boy dancer, Riley Simpson-Fowler, came home to Whitehorse from Arizona to share his experiences. A highlight of the day was a ‘dance off’ between Riley and some of the youth. Riley shared his thoughts about living his dream and how supported he feels by his Northern community wherever he travels in the world. It was a fitting end to the workshops, as it seems that youth across the country all agree that ‘as long as you know where you are from, you can go anywhere.’

    © David Reid

    Bear witness

    Marking and celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday, the four-member team of the Bear Witness Arctic Expedition successfully returned home May 11, after a month-long journey circumnavigating Bylot Island, a remote and uninhabited island in Canada’s High Arctic, more than 700 kilometres North of the Arctic Circle.

    After leaving Ottawa, April 10 with First Air, the team has accomplished a world first: skiing on the largest island in the world, retracing historical routes, including the eastern entrance of the fabled Northwest Passage.

    The expedition traversed over the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area, home to polar bears, narwhals, bowheads, belugas, seals, walrus and hundreds of thousands of sea birds.

    The four skiers compiled information on weather and wildlife while enroute and the electromagnetic icemeter (EMP) they carried with them measured the thickness of the sea ice.

    Congratulations to the team of Eric Brossier, Ingrid Ortlieb, Martin Garcia and David Reid.

    Check out the blog and photos at

    A group of students takes in the Pangnirtung Fjord, in Nunavut, on a 2016 Students on Ice expedition. © Lee Narraway for SOI Foundation / 2016

    Canada C3

    Imagine a group of Canadians from all backgrounds, of all ages, and from all walks of life standing on the bow of a 220-foot former Canadian Coast Guard vessel, admiring a polar bear interacting with her cubs. This icebreaker is travelling through Canada’s Arctic with a cross-section of Canadian society, which includes journalists, Indigenous elders, authors, musicians, youth, and scientists on board. While the group takes in the wonders of Canada’s fauna, a media team broadcasts live 360-video to a classroom of Grade 4 students in Ottawa, Ontario. The live footage is later broadcast on a national news report from coast to coast to coast. This is Canada C3: a 150-day expedition that is taking Canadians from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage, ultimately connecting the people of this country to their land, their culture, their history and to each other.

    A Canada 150 Signature project and Students on Ice Foundation initiative, Canada C3 aims to engage millions of Canadians from across the country, both virtually and on board the Canada C3 ship. The journey began in Toronto, Ontario, on June 1, 2017, and will finish in Victoria, British Columbia, on October 28, 2017. The 150-day voyage is divided into 15 legs and a different group of Canadians is embarking on board for each.

    The expedition’s programming is centered on Canada 150’s four key themes: Reconciliation, Youth Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion and the Environment. Participants on board the expedition have begun visiting communities across the country, participating in events, and fostering dialogues and discussions about Canada’s past, present and future. Each participant on board the Canada C3 ship has been selected for their commitment to making Canada a better place, their community involvement, their enthusiasm for the project and the significant amount of knowledge and experience they can contribute to the expedition.

    Curious to learn more? Visit for updates, an interactive map of the journey and to meet the participants on board the ship.

    Mireille Sylvester

    150+ Reasons We Love Canada

    To acknowledge Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017, VIBE Arts, an award-winning charitable arts organization committed to engaging young people from under-resourced neighbourhoods through arts education, is working with youth and communities across Canada to create 60 public murals that voice what Canada means to them and why Canadians love their nation. The project is called ‘150+ Reasons We Love Canada’. The ‘plus’ sign holds dual meaning. It refers to Canadians having more than ‘150 reasons’ why they love Canada, and, most importantly, it acknowledges that Indigenous peoples are the original occupants of our nation’s land.

    At the project helm there are over 500 children and youth aged 10 to 29, from diverse cultures and communities across Canada, all looking for opportunities to thrive and to use the arts to make change and lead change; to make new connections with themselves, with others and their country. Youth leadership, civic engagement, grassroots community art making and collaboration — at a national scale — are central to the project. The 60 original hand-painted murals, each six feet by four feet, will be made by children and youth engaged in free mural making programs that will take place in social agencies and schools in every Canadian province and territory.

    Drawing from online submissions of reasons “why we love Canada,” collected and archived on VIBE Arts’ website, the young program participants will produce all the original imagery of the murals with the guidance of professional artists who are hired to engage children and youth in facilitated workshops. The murals’ production begins with shipping blank panels to project partners in shelters, schools, libraries, youth centres, hospitals, Aboriginal agencies, detention centres, and public housing across Canada to be transformed into murals, and then once complete, the artworks will be shipped back to Toronto to be displayed in July and August 2017. Thereafter, the murals will be returned to the communities where they were created as a legacy that will mark the spirited voices of our young people on Canada’s milestone year.

    Members of the Boys and Girls Club of Yukon in Whitehorse worked on the Yukon Mural, facilitated by artist Blair Thorson. © Jag Gundu

    Highlighting this project is the unique way in which the youths’ murals will be shared and acknowledged by Canadians. Through innovative partnerships, VIBE Arts will display the murals in their original state in over 20 subway stations in Toronto, at ground level in digital form in airports across Canada, shopping malls, and in our skylines on 306 large-format digital billboards.

    The 150+ Reasons We Love Canada project creates a unique opportunity to engage newcomer and marginalized youth in reflection, dialogue and artistic expression about the aspects of Canada that they find important. The project is essentially a national narrative set to provoke meaningful dialogue and storytelling among young Canadians about our country using the art of children and youth. It’s about capturing the stories — artfully — of what makes our country great and allowing our young people to be the visual storytellers.

    Canada’s next generation of community builders and creators need to have their voices forefront in representing what is important about the country they live in.

    Instagram: 150_reasons

    Twitter: @150reasons

    Facebook: @150Reasons


    Quantum Tangle © Kayley Mackay

    From the North

    Coming this fall, over 40 artists and crew will go on tour to give Canadians a glimpse of true northern culture.

    A signature Canada 150 event, From the North: A travelling show from Yukon, NWT and Nunavut will bring together performing artists, visual artists and traditional games athletes from the three territories on a tour to Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Ottawa, Montréal and Vancouver.

    IVA – Kathleen Merritt

    Produced by Music Yukon, From the North will include evening performances at venues such as the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre in Yellowknife and the Cultch in Vancouver and free day-time public engagements at venues such as the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse and the Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

    Confirmed artists and athletes include:

    • Borealis Soul (Yukon)
    • The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers and DASH (Yukon)
    • Michel Gignac (Yukon)
    • IVA (Nunavut)
    • Robyn McLeod (NWT)
    • NÀHGĄ (NWT)
    • Quantum Tangle (NWT)
    • John Sabourin (NWT)
    • Dennis Shorty (Yukon)
    • Kuduat Shorty-Henyu (Yukon)
    • Sophie Villeneuve (Yukon)
    • Dan Wade (Nunavut)

    “The North is so vast and dynamic,” says From the North’s Executive Producer Kim Winnicky. “The people and the culture of our three territories are as distinct as they are northern.”

    “We are so pleased to be able to come together and showcase the North’s vibrant cultures not only to our fellow Canadians south of 60 but also to ourselves.”

    Dakhká Khwáan Dancers

    From the North will launch on October 22 and wrap up on November 11. For a complete tour schedule and more information about the show and the artists, please visit

    The Canadian Aviation Arctic Tour 2017 Demo Jet.

    Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour

    Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour 2017 (CAAT) will be a summer-long air show tour that will bring excitement, entertainment and celebration to every community in Canada’s Great White North, all with the backdrop of the magic of flight. That’s 97 air shows, flying 16,700 nautical miles beginning with Fort Liard, Yukon, and wrapping up in Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit.

    The tour also includes a large educational component. Partnerships with social activism organization WE, the air show industry’s Ryan Poe Foundation and renowned speaker, author and educator David Bouchard, have created a curriculum that engages students in learning about the physics of flight while having them reflect on their role in society and how they can affect and help shape the next 150 years.

    Canada’s massive northern geographical footprint will present the CAAT with a list of challenges. The unforgiving terrain is eclipsed only by the completely unpredictable weather and numerous aviation hurdles, like access to fuel, smoke oil, spare parts, and dealing with gravel air strips in a constant state of permafrost.

    The CAAT will have a core team of air show performers, with others joining the tour where and when they can, in addition to support staff that include a SAR Tech and air show announcer.

    As the Carbon Zero Certified tour travels eastward over the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Labrador and northern Quebec, stops of note include Alert, the world’s most northern permanently inhabited point, and Baker Lake, the geographic centre of Canada on July 1.

    No doubt the tour is ambitious. And no one has attempted it on this grand of a scale. The team is determined to bring this milestone celebration to as many people north of 60 as they can, hopefully inspiring a few generations of aviators, dreamers and explorers.

    “This project speaks to everything that should be important to all of us: culture, education, social justice, heritage and national pride. And it’s all delivered as fun and entertaining air shows to 97 communities using a vehicle so incredibly important to our North: aviation. What better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday?” says Executive Director, Nancy McClure.

    If you would like to support the Canadian Arctic Aviation tour, a crowd fundraising page has been set up whereby a $25 donation buys a kilometre in your name.

    Nunavut Canada 150 Project

    Canada’s 150th year since confederation provides Canadians across the country with a chance to celebrate their identity and accomplishments.

    Artcirq performs at the 40th Annual Nattiq Frolics Festival held in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, in April. The Nunavut Canada 150 fund sponsored the circus troupe’s travel, accommodations, youth workshops and community performance. © David Ho/DNV Photo

    That’s also true for Inuit spread across 25 communities in Nunavut, says Theresie Tungilik, an elder from Rankin Inlet, a community of about 3,000 on the western shores of Hudson Bay.

    “I want to celebrate the greats that we, as Inuit, have become,” Tungilik says, such as cardiac surgeon Donna Kimmaliardjuk, author Sheila Watts-Cloutier and fashion designer Victoria Kakuktinniq.

    Rankin Inlet’s Canada 150 celebration, which focuses on multiculturalism, is one of 16 community projects in 13 communities so far approved for funding by the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA).

    The community celebrations include big Canada Day parties, traditional harvesting trips on the land and short-film projects.

    Drum dancers at the community Artcirq performance. © David Ho/DNV Photo

    “The celebrations give Inuit, many of whom have had a difficult history with Canada because of assimilation and residential schools, a chance to look forward,” Tungilik says.

    In Kugaaruk, further west and north than Rankin Inlet, the community’s Canada 150 celebration is aimed at rallying the community.

    “It means everything to us to have Canada 150 support our community. It’s a way of bringing people together, particularly elders with young people,” says Cathie Rutter, a hamlet employee and lead organizer for the community celebration.

    Throat singers perform at the Nattiq Frolics Festival. © David Ho/DNV Photo

    In the south Baffin Island community of Cape Dorset, an art group called the Embassy of Imagination is planning a massive mural project that engages elders, youth and includes a community feast.

    “My job will be to paint alongside of the kids and try to motivate them. Basically, I just try to show them that I’m working so that they work along with me,” Parr Josephee, a youth mentor for the project says.

    The Nunavut Canada 150 Project fund is administered by NACA, with help from its partners: the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tourism, Nunavut Film, the Alianait Festival and the Inuit Heritage Trust. Thomas Rohner is the Nunavut Canada 150 Coordinator.

    Polarman in 360°

    Iqaluit’s real-life superhero stars in an interactive virtual reality film touring the country for Canada 150. Brave, bold and benevolent, Polarman is a real-life superhero.

    Polarman patrols Iqaluit. Comic book interpretation by Dan Day.

    If you’re from Iqaluit, Nunavut, you’ve likely already met the masked anti-bullying crusader. Often armed with a snow shovel and braving the cold without a coat, Polarman patrolled the streets of Iqaluit in his superhero suit for over two decades.

    Presented by SESQUI, a Canada 150 Signature Project, Polarman is a virtual reality experience starring the masked, snow shoveling hero. The interactive film transports viewers to Polarman’s Iqaluit community and shows the world from his perspective. The piece mixes two distinct visual styles: live-action 360° video, and three different comic versions, drawn by Canadian artists Daniel Day, Leisha-Marie Riddel and Andrew Qappik (who helped design Nunavut’s flag).

    The experience immerses you in Polarman’s origin story. In his own voice, he relates how, after being bullied at a young age and finding inspiration in figures like the Lone Ranger and Nunavut’s own Super Shamou, he dedicated himself to clearing snow for senior citizens and keeping playgrounds fun for all kids. His story is about being a role model for others and being true to yourself.

    In a year when Canadians are exploring the country in new and inspiring ways, Polarman celebrates self-expression and finding your identity in a place as diverse as Canada. Polarman is also part of SESQUI’s free app, MERIDIAN VR, available for download on OS X and Android, for use with Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift VR headsets.

    The 360° film is one of several SESQUI experiences produced for the sesquicentennial. To join the celebration, visit and attend a SESQUI event in a town near you.

    Winnie Ho

    HRH Prince Charles The Prince of Wales meets with AIT Chair Monica Ittusardjuat at his Welsh house. © PCC

    Prince’s Charities Canada

    The members of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s Atausiq Inuktut Titirausiq (AIT) Task Group have been mandated to explore the development of a unified writing system for all Inuit in Canada. In the Fall of 2015, the group began working with Prince’s Charities Canada (PCC), an organization that supports the Canadian charitable work of the Prince of Wales. PCC had recently begun working on projects focused on the revitalization of Indigenous languages and wanted to see how they could help support the work of the AIT.

    A year later the group were off on a study tour of Wales to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, social, institutional and other factors that have supported the successful revitalization of the Welsh language. The Study Tour was planned to help inform the work of the AIT Task Group and uncover the best practices relevant to their own educational plans and recommendations. The group looked at the rollout of Welsh in the education system, the experiences and stories of the Welsh people on language rollout, and how a network of fluent speakers was developed who could then teach the language and write and publish material in the language.

    The tour concluded with tea and an in-depth roundtable discussion with His Royal Highness at his Welsh house, Llwynywermod. The group returned home to Canada brimming with ideas to help enhance the teaching and promotion of Inuktut.

    The group reunites with their Royal Patron at an event in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in late June where they’ll be able to share what they have accomplished since their last meeting and how their trip last December has helped to shape their work going forward.

    During the royal couple’s visit, they are expected to participate in activities that highlight the four themes of Canada 150: diversity and inclusion, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, young people and the environment.

    The Lost Stories Project

    Though it closed two years ago, Ottawa’s Southway Inn will live on by way of public art and film as part of a Canada 150 project. In 2017, the Lost Stories Project is bringing to light four little known stories from Canada’s past. From the North to Ottawa’s Southway Inn tells the story of the Southway and the many Northern customers who stayed there for more than 50 years.

    Southway Inn, flying the Nunavut flag on the far right. © Henry Walsh

    First Air had a hand in this decades-long connection as its employees were among the first to stay at the hotel, then recommending it to others. The Southway became a gateway to the south for northern Inuit, hosting Pauktuutit’s Annual general meetings for many years as well as Nunavut Land Claims negotiators. Inuit travelling to Ottawa for medical and family reasons recall the hotel’s willingness to store country food in the restaurant’s freezers and paying no mind to the fish swimming in the bathtub!

    This summer sculptor Couzyn van Heuvelen and filmmaker Mosha Folger are teaming up to tell the Southway story with a public artwork and a documentary. Van Heuvelen is an emerging urban Inuk artist whose sculptures playfully engage with ideas about Inuit culture and identity. Ottawa-based Mosha Folger has several award-winning documentaries and stop-motion animation works to his name. The artwork will be unveiled at a celebration on September 7 at the former Southway Inn location. For more information about Lost Stories and the Southway Inn project, visit:

    Caribou Legs in Yellowknife, NT. © ELPIO Production

    From the Red Couch: What does Canada mean to you?

    Cold air fills the nostrils as we leave the airport in Whitehorse, Yukon. Clear skies in minus 30 temperatures. In the North, the sky seems to be more blue and the snow more white. The redness of the couch stands out even more against the snowy backdrop. The red couch rolls through the airport to the cargo hangar. It travels with us wherever we go, like a suitcase.

    Yukon is the final stop of the Red Couch Northern Tour which began three weeks earlier in Iqaluit, Nunavut, to celebrate Canada’s 150 Anniversary. We are a team of four with a mission: to capture Canadian stories. During the 21 days on the road, the Red Couch team rolled through communities in all of Canada’s Territories. There is only one question to answer in one minute: What does Canada mean to you?

    Johnny Issaluk and Louis-Philip Pothier in Iqaluit, Nunavut. © ELPIO Production

    More than one hundred individuals shared their story including Sandy Silver, Premier of the Yukon; Madeleine Redfern, Mayor of Iqaluit; and many others. Mark Prins in Whitehorse spoke about the power of living together in a community. Laura Amy in Behchokǫ̀, Northwest Territories, gave a powerful testimony encouraging Canadian indigenous women to pursue their dreams. These are examples of truly Canadian stories spoken from the heart. This might be the most democratic Canadian couch, embracing Canadians from all walks of life.

    There will be more to come this summer as the Red Couch continues its coast-to-coast journey to honour Canada’s 150th Birthday.

    The Red Couch Tour is a Canada 150 Signature Project funded by the Government of Canada. More information is on and social media:




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