Consumed by the everyday, it’s hard to remember the power a hometown cultural workshop can have in transforming an individual Nunavummiuq’s life, and in giving others the confidence to make a splash on the international stage.
That’s the story behind Victoria Kakuktinniq of Victoria’s Arctic Fashion (VAF), who participated in the type of sewing workshop often mentioned in these pages. She told us that learning how to make a traditional parka was fun, and made her want to make more.
In the seven years since that Rankin Inlet workshop, Kakuktinniq has experimented, hustled, and threaded more than her share of needles. Her VAF designs seem to be everywhere, at least in Iqaluit, where she opened a store less than two years ago.
It’s one thing to be a star in Iqaluit, it’s another to make a splash internationally, as Kakuktinniq did by showing her work at Paris Fashion Week.
In addition to participating in a show for emerging talent, she joined other Indigenous designers from Canada for a show, where she met Nuvuja9’s Melissa Attagutsiak of Ottawa, who is originally from Iqaluit.
Rather than hog the Paris spotlight, Kakuktinniq brought with her models from Nunavut and accessories by Nunavut designers. And building on the momentum, she and Attagutsiak returned to Iqaluit to share their experience at a sold-out show, a testament to the desire to support homegrown artists.
There is a hunger inside and outside the territory for ways to appreciate and support Inuit culture.
Toonik Tyme attendees got a thrill out of seeing the caribou clothing Iguptaq Autut’s mother made him 20 years ago, which he just recently re-acquired after years in storage at a friend’s house.
CBC Radio listeners across the country will soon enjoy the sounds of Nunavut Music Week as Tom Power, host of ‘q’, hosted the second annual event, with a concert from the event to be aired the week of May 13.
And who can forget the recent auction sale of Kenojuak Ashevak’s Enchanted Owl print, which set a national record of $217,000?
Culture is a hot commodity in Canada, and there is an opportunity for any Nunavut artist with the talent and drive to hone their craft and build demand for their work.
It’s not easy to do so when faced with the realities of the day-to-day. Even if you are not coping with poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, substance abuse issues, or legacy trauma, these social concerns affect all Nunavummiut. They seep into our lives and challenge our ability to make progress on improving our lives.
If you have a dream, know that it can be achieved. Municipalities, governments, and non-profits want to support individuals and groups with big dreams, partly because they don’t have the ideas or the capacity to execute them. That’s where creators come in.
Not all of us will find the success of Victoria Kakuktinniq or Kenojuak Ashevak, but each of us can contribute by thinking of ways Nunavut can be better, or by supporting those with the ideas.