Posts Tagged ‘arctic canada’
Dave Bidini’s ode in The Globe and Mail to Yellowknife is a lovely read.
Yellowknife is small and openhearted, but it’s also hard to find. You think you know what it is, but then it moves – from the darkness of a tavern teeming with North and South Slavey, Cape Bretoners, Métis, Saskatchewanians and old men from the Dehcho to the cool shadow of a Twin Otter cruising low enough above your dockside rock that you could poke it with a fork. Here’s a fun game: When visiting, try to describe Yellowknife to your friends on a postcard (hint: buy a lot of postcards).
Yellowknife has a main street, but no one calls it that. In fact, they call it two things: 50th Avenue and Franklin Avenue, depending on how you feel about the former British explorer and northern colonialism (spoiler alert: The Dene don’t feel good, while most non-indigenous shrug as if not quite understanding the question). The main street – or 50th or he-who-will-not-be-named – has its own naked charm, including the denizens outside the main Post Office, most of them undomiciled.
If you spend any time with them, it isn’t hard to walk into a story. One afternoon at the main post office, I met two men the size of compact cars – Bear and James Thrasher, both from Tuktoyaktuk – who, like many of the city’s homeless, had come to Yellowknife because of greater access to services, housing and alcohol (Tuktoyaktuk is a dry community on the shores of the Western Arctic, which I visited during my eight-week stay in the Northwest Territories).
When they found out I was going to their hamlet, Bear asked for my book so he could write down the Inuvialuktun word for “white person.” I handed it to him – the hardbound writing book looked like a church pamphlet in his great hands – and his tongue curved around his lip while engraving the word on the page: kabloonak. He told me in a voice like a hammer on a drum: “Now, listen, you might hear this word, but it’s not necessarily bad. It depends on how someone uses it. You got that?” I told him I did.
Arctic Comics is back.
Thirty years after amazing and entertaining audiences at Expo 86, “Arctic Comics” with its mythological heroes, tall tales and meditations on what it means to be Inuit is back.
“There’s no shortage of stories up here,” said Nicholas Burns, one of the artists behind the 88-page, full-colour comic book being published this month.
The first “Arctic Comics” began almost as a lark when the Northwest Territories government realized it would need northern material to sell at its pavilion at Vancouver’s world party.
“I put in a proposal saying I’ll do up this comic and do up stories of Inuit past, present and future and they thought it was a great idea,” said Burns, who was then living in Rankin Inlet, now part of Nunavut. “I essentially self-published and sent them down and they sold like hotcakes.”
The N.W.T. pavilion turned out to be one of the hits of the fair. Eager visitors snapped up 60,000 copies of “Arctic Comics.”
With the same past, present and future focus as the original, the new “Arctic Comics” features a trip with a legendary Inuit Ulysses in “Kiviuq versus Big Bee.” The fantastical adventure of the long-ago traveller, drawn from Inuit myth, was written by the late Jose Kusugakm, one of the founders of Nunavut, and illustrated by Germaine Arnaktauyok, who drew the drum dancer on the back of a special-edition toonie.
There’s a romp entitled “The Great Slo-Pitch Massacre” and a science-fiction yarn called “Blizzard House” — aficionados will recognize artist George Freeman who drew Captain Canuck.
Dauntless RCMP Const. Lucy Puqittuq and her loyal dog Vincent make an appearance and the theme of southerners inventing their own version of the North comes in for some teasing in “Film Nord.”
And then there’s Michael Kusugak’s “On Waiting,” a setting of a poem about a boy lying on a beach waiting for a seal. Almost nothing happens — except for everything.
The boy dreams, watches the tide and thinks of his dead grandfather playing walrus-head soccer with other spirits among the aurora’s dancing lights.
The book can be ordered for $C 17.99, a PDF version for $C 9.99