A story from the dark side of the Canadian Arctic.
Tony Kalluk should have been long dead. Instead, he’s on a rocky road to redemption, and his story reverberates throughout Nunavut.
From a horrendous childhood, Tony grew up to be a violent criminal, spending 20 years in the prison system by the time he turned 40. High on pills, he attempted “suicide by police” but was was only wounded. Then, against the odds, Tony returned home to Clyde River, where he was helped by people he had formerly frightened, and found a vocation as a community counsellor, using his life experience to guide others.
But his demons are still close by, watching as Tony makes headway towards a new life.
Piksuk’s new documentary series has been selected by its primary broadcaster, the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN), to represent an example of the network’s best indigenous journalism at a world conference of indigenous broadcasters.
The World Indigenous Television and Broadcasting Conference will be held at Kautekeino in the Sami territory of Arctic Norway, at the end of March. The theme of this third media gathering is Indigenous Journalism.
The 6 x 22-minute series follows the traditional Inuit dog sledding race, which in 2010 ran the 500 kilometres along the coast of Baffin Island, from Pond Inlet to Clyde River It’s a thrilling test of stamina and skills through a spectacular Arctic landscape — a mix of adventure and cultural survival as Canada’s Inuit renew their ancient bond with their dogs. The television series is accompanied by an interactive website and a video game.
A journey from violence and crime to redemption. Tony escaped the darkest underbelly of today’s Arctic to set out on the road to a constructive life in his home community, an uncertain, perilous journey but one that leaves us with surprising hope.
Piksuk Media’s six-episode series about the 2010 Nunavut Quest traditional Inuit dog-sledding race on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. An inside, participatory look at a week of high drama and magnificent Arctic landscape.
Inuit from across Canada’s eastern Arctic gather for the annual Nunavut Quest week-long traditional dog-sledding race. They have prepared for months, making equipment and getting their dogs in shape. Just getting to the starting line is an expedition through a frozen wonderland.
17 teams, — 180 dogs — have gathered at Pond Inlet. 115 helpers on 45 snowmobiles hauling food, fuel and all kinds of supplies set out ahead. Our destination is Clyde River, 500 kilometres away. But first we face ground drift, tricky ice and rugged mountains.
Climate change hits the Nunavut Quest: warm weather and soft snow exhaust dogs and machines. One musher loses his team and is penalized; youngsters challenge the old guard.
It’s been a winter or weird weather, and one night nature springs a bad surprise: The sea ice under our camp cracks open, and we’ve got to move, fast! It’s a lesson in the new realities of a changing Arctic.
300 kilometres into the race we find ourselves in a magical world of glaciers, deep valleys, towering peaks. It all comes together at Pilaktuaq, the island that’s “cut with a knife”.
We’re running out of time, so the mushers vote to stretch the final legs of the race. If they only knew… But the excitement builds as the crowd in Clyde River hails the mushers as heroes.
On their way to gaining substantial control of their ancestral land, Nunavimmiut learned important lessons. The creation of Nunavut, itself a twenty-five year effort, was only the stepping stone to other initiatives.
In 2008, after years and years of negotiations, the Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area became a reality. Off the east coast of Baffin Island, south of Clyde River, this marine habitat is the late-summer home of 100 bowhead whales, the largest known concentration of the endangered Baffin Bay – Davis Strait population. The entire coastal area in this region is pristine at present, and supports intact populations of polar bears, ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese, halibut, ringed seals and narwhal.
History moves fast in Canada’s Arctic, and what was gained through patience and persistence is often taken for granted a few years later. As a lesson for other indigenous communities, “Sanctuary” will look at how the victory of Ninginganiq was achieved, and how the people of Baffin east coast can best protect and use it for future generations.
When Tony Kalluk returned to his home community of Clyde River three years ago, many townspeople feared the worst. In the more than twenty years that he had been gone, Tony had gained the reputation as one of Nunavut’s most hardened and violent criminals, involved in gangs and drugs. But word was that he had reformed, and that he was coming home to begin a new life.
Tony Kalluk’s unfinished life history lays bare the dark underbelly of Nunavut itself, in a way that statistics, government reports and media accounts cannot match. At the same time it is riveting raw material for a film, be it a fictionalized drama or a documentary where Tony himself is front and centre. It could even be a mixture, with Tony and other real-life characters re-enacting episodes from the past while also taking us into their lives today.
As many of Nunavut’s communities struggle with a crisis of addiction, suicide and violence, many committed Nunavimmiut are struggling to turn the tide. Our series explores the issues by profiling the hard work of a cast of counselors, elders, teachers, social workers, justice committee members, health providers, politicians, anti-suicide activists, church leaders and other selected individuals, including people who have themselves been addicts
and convicted criminals. We explore the issues through the work of people fighting to make Nunavut a better place.
Forty years ago, as nomadic life was ending for Canada’s Inuit, the sled dog population plummeted from an estimated 20,000 to about 700. The collapse was traumatic, and the wounds of this loss are still open. What happened, and why? This documentary co-produced with the National Film Board of Canada for the Aboriginal People’s Television Network, and Societé Radio-Canada is making its way on the festival circuit. It will be released by NFB in mid-2011.
In this story of “two truths” and the power of memory, Piksuk crews traveled across Baffin Island to re-enact (photos) the killings of sled dogs in the 1960s and 1970s.
The dogs are back! Every April, Nunavut mushers engage in the week-long Nunavut Quest sled dog race across the northern Baffin region. In 2010 Piksuk crews traveled with the race through the spectacular Baffin Island landscape from Pond Inlet to Clyde River.
180 dogs, 135 humans and 45 snowmobiles made for a dramatic procession as we faced blizzards, cracking sea ice and witnessed dramatic climate change that’s sweeping across the Arctic.
LA QUETE DE PHILIPPE is currently being broadcast by Radio-Canada through its regional services. A six-part series for APT is being completed and will be broadcast in Inuktitut and English later this year. An interactive website and a dog-sledding video game is under construction.