Curtis and Jordan Konek were in Sackville last week promoting their Nanisiniq project. Nanisiniq is Inuit language (Inuktitut) for “a journey of discovery”, a project the cousins, who are in their early 20s, spearheaded in their hometown of Arviat, Nunavut, in 2010. Arviat is on the western shores of Hudson Bay. The Nanisiniq Arviat History Project is a multi-media history project that brings together Inuit youth and Elders to re-discover Inuit history. The cousins have travelled thousands of kilometres around the world, visiting four continents, co-documenting over 100 hours of video footage, examining countless archival documents, talking to over 50 Elders and re-thinking the importance of history.
In a world where our sense of time spans two generations back in the past and two generations forward into the future. Most people cannot name a single great-grandparent. Few parents can conceive of the possibility of their child someday becoming a grandparent. In this sense of viewing history it’s pretty much impossible for us to even imagine the distant future. It is difficult to contest the fact of rising temperatures and their volatile effects. The oceans are a bit warmer. Polar ice is melting at a faster rate each year. There’s less snow on certain mountains. The evidence is everywhere. It is extraordinarily difficult to comprehend something that possibly, maybe, just might occur 100, 250, or 1,000 years from now.
The evidence is even more prevalent in Canada’s Arctic. Curtis and Jordan learned at an early age to pay attention to differences in weather. Where they are from knowing weather patterns is a means to survive. In their lifetime they have seen different changes in the climate, with polar bears becoming more of a problem as their food sources become less accessible, and birds are coming in later and staying longer. They feel lots of research is being done to document changes of the earth but little research has been done by talking to the people who have experienced these changes and hold the stories from previous generations. The two Inuit youth travelled to the 17th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, to raise awareness among Inuit communities on the importance of having an Inuit voice at the conference.
It’s the cousins’ first time in Atlantic Canada.
Jordan said, “The small rural community of Sackville feels like home but with much more access to stores and the things they need up north in their community of 2,318 people.”
They both noted that weather in Sackville this time of year very much felt like autumn at home, and even joked the trees smell like autumn. Their stay in Sackville was just 10 short days considering they travelled 12 hours between Arviat, Rankin, Winnipeg, Toronto and Moncton to finally reach Sackville. On their trip they were able to speak with Mount Allison students in an attempt to try to educate them about the people and knowledge from the north, so that they may have a better understanding of the Arctic. They are also editing an Inuit perspectives film on Arctic security with Ian Mauro, a professor at Mount Allison University and documentary filmmaker. Mauro and Zacharias Kunuk directed the film Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change.
Both boys have been working on cameras for about two years since they started playing around with them for a history project. It has become a profession for them interviewing elders, teenagers and adults. They would like to do more recording and filming in the Arctic and interview more of the elders before they pass away and their stories remain untold and unheard by people who will never knew who they were. You can find more about the Nanisiniq Arviat History Project at http://nanisiniq.tumblr.com/
Trevor Donald is the student communications intern with RCE Tantramar, a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. He is also a student at Mount Allison University, where he is studying geography and environment.