International Inuit Day is November 7

International Inuit Day honours the Arctic and the people who inhabit it. To celebrate the day, we have complied a collection of books and video about Inuit culture and history. The word Inuit (ᐃᓄᐃᑦ) means "people," so it is redundant to say "Inuit people." There are over 160, 000 Inuit living across the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, Russia, and Alaska.

Fast Facts

  • Inuk refers to a single person; Inuuk is two people; Inuit refers to 3 or more people
  • Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Inuvialuktun, are the official languages of Nunavut
  • Inuit are not covered by the Indian Act

Fishing with Grandma, by Susa AvingaqFishing with Grandma, by Susa Avingaq
Adventure begins when Grandma takes her two grandchildren out for a trip to the lake. After showing the kids how to prepare for a fishing trip, Grandma and the kids enjoy a day of jigging in the ice for fish. Grandma shows them every step they need to know to complete a successful fishing trip, from what clothes to wear, to how to drill and clear holes in the ice, to how to make a traditional Inuit jigging rod. By the end of the day, the kids have a yummy meal of Arctic char, and they have also learned everything they need to know to go out on the lake on their own.

 

traditions, traps, and trendsTraditions, Traps and Trends: Transfer of Knowledge in Arctic Regions (ebook)
The transfer of knowledge is a key issue in the North as Indigenous Peoples meet the ongoing need to adapt to cultural and environmental change. In eight essays, experts survey critical issues surrounding the knowledge practices of the Inuit of northern Canada and Greenland and the Northern Sámi of Scandinavia, and the difficulties of transferring that knowledge from one generation to the next. Reflecting the ongoing work of the Research Group Circumpolar Cultures, these multidisciplinary essays offer fresh understandings through history and across geography as scholars analyze cultural, ecological, and political aspects of peoples in transition.

 

Uncomfortable Inuk - Exploring Inuit Qaujimajatuqangituncomfortable inuk, by DeCouto, Tina Piulia (ebook)
Tina Piulia DeCouto is a 2018-2019 Jane Glassco Northern Fellow, who has has worked for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), an organization representing the interests of Inuit in the implementation of the Nunavut Agreement, since 2014. Most recently, she has taken on the role of Director for Social and Cultural Development.  Her public policy research paper, Uncomfortable Inuk – Exploring Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, explores the application of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and Inuit Societal Values throughout the territorial government administration and delivery of territorial government services in Nunavut.

 

Harpoon of the hunterHarpoon of the Hunter, by Markoosie
Harpoon of the Hunter is the widely acclaimed story of Kamik, a young hero who comes to manhood while on a treacherous hunt for a wounded polar bear. In this astonishing tale of a people struggling for survival in a brutal environment, Markoosie describes life in the Canadian Arctic before the arrival of the first White trappers or whalers.

 

Ilagiinniq : interviews on Inuit family values from the Qikiqtani Region 
Through interviews with elders from three regions of Nunavut, Ilagiinniq: Interviews on Inuit Family Values provides a wealth of information on traditional family values. Covering relationships between siblings, elders and grandchildren, uncles and aunts, husbands and wives, and in-laws, this book is an indispensable resource of information on how Inuit families traditionally lived, and how traditional ways can be implemented in the modern world.

 

 

Inuit, by Jayson Chesterfield

Inuit, by Jayson Chesterfield (ebook)
When we think of the Inuit people, it is often of the cold and snow they endure, but their story is much more than just that of adaption and survival in a harsh climate. The long-spanning history of the first Arctic dwellers is told with beautiful photographs and illustrations in this fascinating account of the traditions of hunters, artists, and families, and their roles in modern-day Inuit life. The struggles and triumphs of the past, present, and future of the Inuit people collide on the pages on this engaging book.

 

from the tundra to the trenchesFrom the Tundra to the Trenches, by Eddy Weetaltuk (ebook)
“My name is Weetaltuk; Eddy Weetaltuk. My Eskimo tag name is E9-422.” So begins From the Tundra to the Trenches. Weetaltuk means “innocent eyes” in Inuktitut, but to the Canadian government, he was known as E9-422: E for Eskimo, 9 for his community, 422 to identify Eddy.  In 1951, Eddy decided to leave James Bay. Because Inuit weren’t allowed to leave the North, he changed his name and used this new identity to enlist in the Canadian Forces: Edward Weetaltuk, E9-422, became Eddy Vital, SC-17515, and headed off to fight in the Korean War.

 

 

life among the qallunaatLife Among the Qallunaat, by Mini Aodla Freeman (ebook)
This is the story of Freeman's experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humourous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman?s movement between worlds and ways of understanding. It also provides a clear-eyed record of the changes that swept through Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s. Mini Aodla Freeman was born in 1936 on Cape Hope Island in James Bay. At the age of sixteen, she began nurse's training at Ste. Therese School in Fort George, Quebec, and in 1957 she moved to Ottawa to work as a translator for the then Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources. 

angry inukAngry Inuk, by Inuit director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
In her award-winning documentary, director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril joins a new tech-savvy generation of Inuit as they campaign to challenge long-established perceptions of seal hunting. Armed with social media and their own sense of humour and justice, this group is bringing its own voice into the conversation and presenting themselves to the world as a modern people in dire need of a sustainable economy.

 

arctic defendersArctic Defenders
Arctic Defenders tells the remarkable story that began in1968 with a radical Inuit movement that changed the political landscape forever. It lead to the largest land claim in western civilization, orchestrated by young visionary Inuit with a dream - the governance of their territory - the creation of Nunavut. The story reveals Canada’s misguided attempts at sovereignty in the north and finds hope and inspiration from determined people who changed the rules of the game.

 

martha of the northMartha of the North
Martha was only 5 when she and her parents were lured away from their Inuit village. They were moved to Canada’s most northerly island, Ellesmere, and assured that game would be plentiful and life would be easy. Instead, they discovered that the islands of the Arctic are among the least hospitable to human life in the world. For years, they endured hunger and extreme cold. Deprived of the right to an education and a childhood, Martha had to help her family survive.

 

Between Two Worldsbetween two worlds
Did you know there was an Inuit man on the back of the $2 bill? This documentary of Joseph Idlout, a man who was once the world's most famous Inuit. In this film, Idlout's son, Peter Paniloo, takes us on a journey through his father's life - that of a man caught "between two worlds."

 

nowhere landNowhere Land
Bonnie Ammaaq remembers it vividly. When she was a little girl, her parents packed up their essentials, bundled her and her younger brother onto a long, fur-lined sled, and left the government-manufactured community of Igloolik to live off the land as had generations of Inuit before them. Watch it in Inuktitut.

 

Throat songThroat Song
In the snowy and mystic landscape of Iqaluit, Nunavut, a small town in the Canadian Arctic, Ippik, a young Inuk woman, is silently suffering from the pains of an abusive relationship. Lost in a community that's been tragically separated from its past, Ippik, through a job with the Department of Justice, begins to connect with other victims of violence in her community, and seeks to reclaim her voice.

 

evans drumEvan's Drum
An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Evan’s Drum is a joyful visit to a family’s loving home, and an uplifting story of cultural pride. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong.

 

sniffing-bearThe Sniffing Bear
This animated film uses the Arctic landscape and the traditional Inuit characters of the Bear, the Seal and the Owl to raise young people's awareness about the harmful effects of substance abuse. A polar bear experiences hallucinations after inhaling fumes from an abandoned gas can. A nearby owl and seal help to show the bear the error of his ways, thus preventing him from falling further into addiction. This film was an initiative of the Natives of the Institution La Macaza to warn children of the dangers of inhaling toxic chemicals.

kamikKamik
This short documentary is a portrait of Ulayok Kaviok, one of the last of a generation of Inuit, born and bred on the land. Ulayok and her family, like many Inuit today, strive to balance 2 very different worlds. Her skills in making the sealskin boots called kamik may soon be lost in the cultural transformation overtaking her community. Kamik offers a glimpse of those universes and the thread one woman weaves between them.

 

i am but a little womanNunavut Animation Lab: I Am But a Little Woman
Inspired by an Inuit poem first assigned to paper in 1927, this animated short evokes the beauty and power of nature, as well as the bond between mother and daughter. As her daughter looks on, an Inuit woman creates a wall hanging filled with images of the spectacular Arctic landscape and traditional Inuit objects and iconography. Soon the boundaries between art and reality begin to dissolve.

 

Mother of Many Childrenmother_of_many_children
In her first feature-length documentary, Alanis Obomsawin honours the central place of women and mothers within Indigenous cultures. The film portrays proud matriarchal cultures that for centuries have been pressured to adopt the standards and customs of the dominant society. Tracing the cycle of Indigenous women’s lives from birth to childhood, puberty, young adulthood, maturity and old age, the film reveals how Indigenous women have fought to regain a sense of equality, instilled cultural pride in their children and passed on their stories and language to new generations.

Inuuvunga - I Am Inuk, I Am AliveInuuvunga - I Am Inuk, I Am Alive
In this feature-length documentary, 8 Inuit teens with cameras offer a vibrant and contemporary view of life in Canada's North. They also use their newly-acquired film skills to confront a broad range of issues, from the widening communication gap between youth and their elders to the loss of their peers to suicide. In Inuktitut with English subtitles.

 

Three-ThousandThree Thousand
In this short film, Inuk artist Asinnajaq plunges us into a sublime imaginary universe—luminescent, archive-inspired cinema that recast the present, past, and future of her people in a radiant new light. Diving into the NFB’s vast archive, she parses the complicated cinematic representation of the Inuit, harvesting fleeting truths and fortuitous accidents from a range of sources—newsreels, propaganda, ethnographic docs, and work by Indigenous filmmakers. Embedding historic footage into original animation, she conjures up a vision of hope and beautiful possibility. Watch it in Inuktitut.

IsletIslet
Combining figurative abstraction with magic realism, this animated short depicts a world in which whales fall out of the sky and fish turn into balloons. It is a black and white evocation of the real world, transformed by the director's special sense of whimsy. With bold lines reminiscent of the stark simplicity of Inuit art, this cautionary tale is a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things. We are all affected by the fate of the Arctic, which each year is disappearing a little farther into the ocean.

 

broken_promisesBroken Promises - The High Arctic Relocation
In the summer of 1953, the Canadian government relocated seven Inuit families from Northern Quebec to the High Arctic. They were promised an abundance of game and fish, with the assurance that if things didn't work out, they could return home after two years. Two years later, another 35 people joined them. There they suffered from hunger, extreme cold, sickness, alcoholism and poverty. It would be 30 years before any of them saw their ancestral lands again.

 

amaroks-songAmarok's Song - The Journey to Nunavut
In this feature-length documentary, three generations of the Caribou Inuit family come together to tell the story of their journey as Canada's last nomads. From the independent life of hunting on the Keewatin tundra to taking the reins of the new territory of Nunavut on April 1, 1999, we see it all.

 

The-Bear-Facts

Nunavut Animation Lab: The Bear Facts
In this animated short, a self-important colonial explorer emerges from a sailing ship and plants a flag on the Arctic ice, as a bemused Inuit hunter looks on. Then the explorer plants another, and another, and another, while the hunter, clearly not impressed that his land has been “discovered,” quietly goes about his business. In this charming and humorous re-imagining of first contact between Inuit and European, Jonathan Wright brings us the story of a savvy hunter and the ill-equipped explorer he outwits. Watch it in Inuktitut.