Another film I turn to is Attagutaaluk (Starvation) (1992), a story of survival against overwhelming odds captured as an interview with Iqallijuq Okkumaluk. She recounts the ordeal of Attagutaaluk, a legendary historical figure in Iglulik. Attagutaaluk, her family and another family are stranded for months far from the coast. Starvation ensues, until only Attagutaaluk is left. To survive for months alone during the brutal winter, she had to resort to eating the dead. Her rescuers, upon reaching their destination, proclaiming as they approached, “We bring one who has eaten meat,” as dictated to by custom. Coded language, instantly understood by the inhabitants of the camp, to prepare for formal and spiritual rituals to follow in these situations. For myself, again it is the exchange, the art of language between filmmaker and Iqallijuq, the pace of the unfolding story and how it is recounted from oral chronicles that make this a riveting film, not the macabre subject matter.
Iqallijuq was my father’s mother and she had passed unto him all her stories. During the summer evenings as night fell, my father would relate those stories as we, his children, were snug in our warm blankets in our tent. One of my very favourite memories of him is singing songs from legends. My siblings and I, striving hard to stay awake, would eventually be lulled by the ebb and flow of the softly spoken stories or songs and fall asleep often before the end of either. I, like other residents of Iglulik, grew up hearing the Atanarjuat legend during such evenings. What excitement there was in our community when film production began on this epic legend. And, what pride we had in its success. Our story, told our way!
Yes, we no longer live in igloos. Yes, some aspects of our culture are no longer practiced and, yes, the modern world is very harsh on our traditions. Unlike Connolly, I identify with the man watching the film inside the museum rather than pitying him. Inuit have acquired new tools to aid remembering. Iglulik filmmakers have used, and continue to use, Inuit culture as a basis to inform, entertain and impart knowledge to our constantly evolving society; age-old mores, revived and told in a new way. We are not reliving, we are remembering— remembering our relations, remembering our ways.
On a return home for a visit to our traditional walrus hunting encampment at Iglulik Point, our tent was located not far from Atanarjuat’s boulder, Iksivautaujaq. According to ancient Iglulik lore, it was the very one he had rested against. One evening on my visit, I heard children singing Atanarjuat’s song. I credit the inexplicable combination of joy, pride and thankfulness that I felt at that moment to Saqqaliasi, Apak Angilirq, Qaukuluk, Qulitalik and the lasting legacies of Iglulik filmmaking.
 Author in conversation with Lucy Tulugarjuk, January, 2019.
 Author in conversation with Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, July, 2017.
Blandina Attaarjuaq Makkik is the Igloo Tag Coordinator for the Inuit Art Foundation and was formerly the Senior Producer for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation where she developed the award-winning show Taku nai, the first Inuktitut-language children’s program. She has also worked as the Inuit and Native Gallery Director at the Craft Ontario Shop and served as a Land Claims Implementation Advisor for the Government of Nunavut.
Credit: This article was published by the Inuit Art Quarterly on August 9, 2019. Copyright the Inuit Art Foundation.
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Remembering Our Ways