Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 10, 2001 - Issue 29



Inuit Filmmaker, Elder Win Aboriginal Achievement Awards


by Denise Rideout Nunatsiaq News


 Art Scraping Skins by Barbara Lavallee


Inuit filmmaker, elder win aboriginal achievement awards
Mariano Aupilardjuk of Rankin Inlet and Zacharias Kunuk of Igloolik are going to Edmonton next month to receive aboriginal achievement awards.

IQALUIT — A respected elder and an Inuit filmmaker are two of the winners of this year’s national aboriginal achievement awards.

Mariano Aupilardjuk of Rankin Inlet and Zacharias Kunuk of Igloolik are among a group of 14 notable people who will be honoured at a gala evening in Edmonton next month.

Aupilardjuk, widely recognized throughout Nunavut for his wisdom and teachings of Inuit traditional knowledge, said he was proud of the award.

"It made me accept myself more," Aupilardjuk said through an interpreter.

Aupilardjuk, who is now in his seventies, has spent years promoting Inuit culture. He’s given numerous talks at Nunavut schools, as well as throughout Canada, on Inuit traditional knowledge.

He has a deep sense of how Inuit Quajimajatuqangit links the past, present and future of the Inuit people.

Aupilardjuk said many Inuit are taking a keen interest in preserving their age-old traditions by incorporating them into everyday life.

"I am happy about it. I’m hearing it more from others about how important it is and how it’s becoming a reality," Aupilardjuk said.

The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation is also praising the elder for his work with healing circles throughout the territory.

Aupilardjuk’s sense of spirituality and compassion was evident last week when he sang a powerful song at an Inuit Quajimajatuqangit meeting in Iqaluit.

The song told the story of a homeless man Aupilarduk saw on the street in New York City. He said people walked past the man, showing little compassion for his suffering.

During the song, the elder touched his heart and the words brought many people, including Aupilardjuk, to tears.

Filmmaker honoured
The aboriginal achievement foundation is also honouring Igloolik filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk for his work in reflecting Inuit culture through films. Kunuk is the co-founder of Isuma Productions, the first independent Inuit film company in Canada.

In the early years of his career, Kunuk challenged production big-wigs at Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board over the right to make films in Inuktitut.

Soon after that he made his first film, appropriately named "From an Inuit Point of View."

Through Isuma, the 43-year-old has produced two television series, called Nunavut and Ammiturmiut. He has just debuted Atanarjuat — the first feature-length Inuktitut language film ever to be made in Canada.

Atanarjuat, which tells an ancient Inuit legend, is currently being shown at a film festival in Finland.

The aboriginal achievement foundation believes Kunuk’s films have given people all over the world a glimpse into the Inuit way of life.

Kunuk, however, is humble about his work and the achievement award. "We’re just trying to do our goals, we’re trying to do like any other independent production company," he said in an interview from Igloolik.

Nunavut’s commissioner, Peter Irniq, said both men are well-deserving of their awards. Irniq has a special respect for Aupilarduk, because their families lived together in an outpost camp near Repulse Bay when Irniq was a child.

"They deserve it," Irniq said. "They promote Inuit culture a lot through film and Inuit traditional knowledge. People are proud of them."


A Time of Change
Read an article about Mariano Aupilardjuk


Zacharias Kunuk
Read more about director Zacharias Kunuk here




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