Best of 2017

7 stories that gave us all the feels in 2017

Meet Canadians who've changed their lives — and others' — through art, music and, in one case, snow.

Meet Canadians who've changed their lives — and others' — through art, music and, in one case, snow

Mary Kudlak gets her first traditional Inuit tattoo at 74 years old. (CBC Arts)

Take a deep breath and grab a handful of Kleenex — you're about to watch the warmest and fuzziest stories to appear on CBC Arts in 2017.

There are stories about family and culture and the traditions that bind us. There are stories about inspiring kids and the wonder and beauty of nature. But in each case, you'll meet Canadians who've changed their lives — and others' — through art, music and, in one case, snow.

Try not to cry all over your phone, and get ready for some feels.

'This is the most heartbreaking image I've ever made'

Troy Moth takes us inside his incredible photograph of a bear at a landfill. 1:25

It's a photo of one lone bear, surrounded by destruction and waste — a disturbingly perfect portrait of environmental destruction. And when B.C. photographer Troy Moth shared the photo on social media this fall, its message went viral.

Per Moth, the scene is "the most heartbreaking image I've ever made."

"I don't know if I can say what we can learn from this, as I'm still trying to figure that out myself,"  he told CBC Arts. "If someone sees this photograph and starts to question our impact on the natural world and all its inhabitants, then that's a win in my books."

Why getting her first tattoo is so meaningful for this Inuit elder

Mary Kudlak shares the emotional process of getting her first kakiniit, or traditional Inuit tattoo. 3:52

Hovak Johnston is reviving a tradition that was almost lost forever, and as the founder of the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project, she's tattooed more than 80 women. While sharing this story, however, she was moved to tears.

In the video, you'll meet Mary Kudlak. At 74, she's getting her first kakiniit, or Inuit tattoo. And as you'll see in the piece, this moment isn't just emotional — it's part of a tradition that ties her to family, culture and community.

When he lost his best friend of 30 years, this artist built a memorial...out of snow

Snow carver Donald Watt shows you the massive sculptural monuments that came out of years of work with his friend and collaborator Michael Lane. 3:11

For decades, artists Donald Watt and Michael Lane travelled the world together, winning snow-carving competitions around the world. Nothing could stop them. Even as his health declined, Lane kept sculpting.

So when Lane died in January this year, his best friend and collaborator honoured his memory the best way he knew how: he built him a snow sculpture like no other.

In this video, Watt shares their story — and reveals the work that he carved in Lane's memory.

This artist is making social media a friendlier place one illustration at a time

Hana Shafi’s (aka Frizz Kid) illustrations of healing struck a chord on the internet and gained her thousands of followers. 3:20

You can call her the anti-troll — though Toronto's Hana Shafi is more commonly known as "Frizz Kid" online. She's grown a giant following on Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter by posting warm and fuzzy affirmations paired with equally warm and fuzzy drawings about self-care and acceptance.

How a bunch of kids from Nunavut are using art to make some real-world change in their hometown

PA System's Alexa Hatanaka: "This is an art work so it's also a gesture." 4:02

The Embassy of Imagination is an art collective from Cape Dorset (Kinngait), Nunavut — a team of teens supported by artists Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson, a.k.a. PA System. The crew has built a reputation for painting murals around Canada, and this summer, they were included in the Art Gallery of Ontario's major exhibition, "Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood." That right there is an inspiring achievement in itself, but the real significance of their AGO installation stretched a couple thousand kilometres beyond the gallery.

The high school in Cape Dorset burned down, and for their AGO piece, the collective took scrap metal from the site and molded it into tiny snowmobiles. In the video, the collective reveals how the art project is actually tied to a meaningful community program back home — one that teaches youth about the traditions of their land. 

As Hatanaka tells CBC Arts in the video: "It's really an important exercise for the youth to think about how it is that they could actually be creative and use art to solve real problems and make change in their community."

Meet the 11-year-old composer who's known as 'Mini Mozart'

Marcel Ward brought his talent to Canada from Syria, and he already has plans to perform for the whole world. 3:39

Marcel Ward spends a lot of time at his parents' restaurant in downtown Hamilton. He's the kid at the piano, the one playing classical music for the diners. And as he tells CBC Arts, music has always been part of his life. That story, though, begins in Syria, when the gift of a little toy keyboard introduced him to the piano.

Discover the joy of dance with these kids from the Alberta School for the Deaf

"If you're deaf and you can't hear the music, you can definitely feel the vibrations. And that can really help you dance." Student Pewhysis Thunder on her week with DanceED Movement Project 2:41

Dance is about movement, it's about rhythm — and in this particular case, it's about pure joy. At the Alberta School for the Deaf in Edmonton, meet a bunch of kids who are finding out how much fun they can have on the dancefloor, as they put together a routine based on the Footloose soundtrack. You don't need to hear the music to love this story — you just need to feel it.

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