Tallurutiup Tariunga retells part of the Inuit creation myth of Nuliajuk – goddess of the sea – in light of the profound changes facing local communities due to climate instability and industrial development.
It’s based on a poem by Iquluit artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, which poses a series of rhetorical questions to Nuliajuk who was tricked into marrying a raven disguised as a hunter. She tried to escape in her father’s kayak, but the raven gave chase and unleashed a furious storm.
Terrified that they’d perish in the gale, her father cast Nuliajuk into the sea. When she clung to the gunwales and threatened to capsize the boat, her father cut off her fingers.
According to the myth, her hands became flippers, and her fingers turned into marine mammals offering sustenance to Inuit for generations.
Writer: Laakkuluk W. Bathory
Directors: Christopher Paetkau, Trevor Gill
Producers: Chris Debicki, Carlyle Paetkau
Our jumping off point was Pond Inlet, Nunavut. From there we sailed into Lancaster Sound which is a jaw-dropping location featuring steep ice-covered mountains, river valleys, fjords, tide-water glaciers, barrier islands, lagoons, dramatic cliffs and much more.
The film was funded by Oceans North Canada, and we travelled on a Students on Ice sailboat captained by Grant Redvers – who once led a two-year ice-locked scientific expedition across the Arctic Ocean.
On board were Pascale Otis – a trained field biologist who studied birds; Kristin Westdal – a marine biologist specializing in narwhal; as well as two local Inuit girls (Savanna Killiktee and Krystal Nutarak) who were there teaching us about their land and culture while we were teaching them how to use cameras to tell stories.
We interviewed locals in the community. We visited hunting camps. We hiked mountains. And, one morning, we woke up to 2,000 narwhal swimming past our boat. It was a cornucopia of life and culture at every turn. It was destined to be an unbelievable journey no matter what, but the crew made it unforgettable.
A special thanks goes out to our composer, Pat Wade of Dead Horse Beats.
About Christopher Paetkau
Christopher Paetkau is a wanderlust in life and thought who’s taught English in Korea, filmed polar bears and beluga whales up north, and worked down south in Burma and Australia.
He has a degree in philosophy and a diploma in media production.
He looks for places where dominant scripts, narratives and angles unravel and where imagination begins.
He’s shot and/or directed for Parks Canada, Travel Manitoba, Oceans North, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and more.
His latest film was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, and he’s had films screen in the National Geographic All Roads International Film Festival, the NSI Online Short Film Festival and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival among others.