Report from the IKkaumajammik (Memories) Project
Guest post by: Tim Borlase
The IkKaumajammik Project, which began in 2017, resumed in Rigolet and Hopedale this year. The intention of this project is to revive an adult theatre troupe in each community and to encourage and provide a basis for any future community-based play production. In collaboration with the Nunatsiavut Government and Tradition & Transition, this project is open to adult community members interested in creating, rehearsing, and performing their own play, and it is as exciting as it is different.
The model was based on the same principle that formed the Labrador Creative Arts Festival. For 42 years, Labrador Creative Arts Festival has been an annual event that brings together students from across Labrador to perform plays that they have written, many of which deal with changing Inuit identity over time.
In Rigolet, the Assistant Director, Robert Jacque, wanted to do a play about how traditional knowledge on ice conditions was changing as a result of warming conditions in winter. The play, which was written and performed by eight community members, followed a family through three generations on their travels in spring to one of their favorite spots - Pease Cove. First on dog team, then on skidoo, and finally by boat, the family averts near-disaster in their pursuit for beauty and solitude. In the end, the options between family tourism and trying to maintain a traditional way of life nearly break up the family. The ice itself comments on how difficult life has become for her.
“Sun, what is wrong? why are you angry? We used to be happy, we took turns! You have the whole world, All that I asked for were the very ends of the earth!
But wait. There are clouds in the sky. Dark clouds. Unnatural Clouds. No, this isn’t you.
(Ice looks down at audience)
How could they do this to me? I was their friend. I helped them. There was a time when they respected me, when they were at peace with the land.
Now, I am dying… and for what? “progress”?
Yes, I am dying. I won’t be around for much longer.
Unless you help me.”
This play was created through taped improvisation. The improvs were collected and assigned to characters, and each actor played multiple roles. There was exhaustive editing of the script because the play took place in a real location and it was important to be environmentally accurate. It was also very important that it was authentic because it chronicled peoples’ experiences.
The play in Hopedale arose from a totally different context. Over the course of several days, community members were invited to the living room of the Manse where they were given lines to begin a scene. Their response was recorded on a piece of paper which was rolled up as to make it impossible to know who had written the previous line. The papers were then thrown into the middle of the floor and distributed again until the whole page was completed. Out of these single pages, a satire emerged. The play was about the people of Hopedale’s preoccupation with Bingo and Cain’s Quest. The first-ever female Cain’s quest team, fed-up with never winning in Bingo, travel over Arvetôk, the original Inuit settlement (prior to Hopedale) and encounter an angekôk. The angekôk, through her traditional knowledge, repairs their skidoos and they go on to win the race. Eager to thank her, the competitors agree to share the $50,000 cheque with her, but not knowing what it is she uses it as a fire starter. The women have no choice but to return to Bingo.
In a different but related project, a new compendium will reintroduce and reproduce some of these scripts alongside accompanying notes and interviews with the original creators of this work in Inuit communities along Labrador’s north coast. As community members rehearse and devise their own work, the processes in collecting, creating, rehearsing and performing this material will be highlighted. This aspect of the project is being completed by Martha MacDonald, Associate Director of the Labrador Institute, and Tim Borlase, Co-Chair of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival.
Epilogue from the (Hopedale, Rigolet) Plays
The voice of our ancestors lives on. It lives within each one of you here with us this evening. Do not let this voice be silenced. It is a voice of wisdom, of strength, and of courage. Listen to this voice to guide you on your own life's adventure. An adventure even tougher–and more wonderful–than Cain's Quest.
And when challenges try to get you off course, do not quit your life's race. Draw on the strength of your ancestors that lives within you–it will get you across the finish line.
nupavut sivuvâvunnit sulle omajut.omajuk ilonnatnik tamänejunik unnusa. Tânna nipik asiuttinianagu nipiujuk Kaujimajunnut, nukiKajunnut amma oitsitailijunnut nâlaKattalugu tänna nipik ikajjuniammat akkutikkut tänna akkutik sukkusegitupalaijut amma piunipaungijuk cains quest-imit
agviataugasuaguvit sunatuinnamut nukkalânnak sivuvâvunnivut ilnnemata ikajutillugit ilingik ikätitaulâgavit akkutiup naningani
Marilyn Baikie, Katheline Pottle, Bella Rowe, Carlene Palliser, Lorraine Allen, Desiree Wolfrey, Tim Borlase, Robert Jacque, Chelsea Morris
Ray Bennet, Kevin Jacque. Martha MacDonald, William Nochasak
Special Thanks (Rigolet)
Nunatsiavut DHSD, Northern Lights Academy, Chelsea Morris, Rigolet Town Council
Sophie Pamak, Jean Flowers, Sarah Tuglavina, Shavonne Tuglavina, Chloe Dicker, Nicole MacLean, Robert Jacque, Tim Borlase
Al Niles, Martha MacDonald, Nicole Shuglo, William Nochasak
Special Thanks (Hopedale)
Nunatsiavut DHSD, Nunatsiavut Government - Inuit Pathways, Nanuk Centre, Harry and Sarah Jensen, Moravian Manse, Amos Comenius Memorial School, Regina Dicker