It was the first time the kids heard the familiar characters of Wapos Bay speaking their language.
Elementary school children in Iqaluit packed the Astro Theatre yesterday to see the Inuktitut version of the film based on the Wapos Bay series.
Wapos Bay is a stop motion animation series set in a fictional Cree community in northern Saskatchewan. It airs on APTN across the country and has featured the voices of Gordon Tootoosis and Lorne Cardinal.
Piksuk Media and the Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, Nunavut (pop. 983) teamed up to produce an Inuktitut version of the feature film, called Long Goodbyes, and the effort was met with rave reviews.
"My favourite part of the movie was, um...I liked all of the movie,” said one young filmgoer.
Inuktitut is still the main language in most of Nunavut, but there are concerns, especially in the larger communities, that young people aren’t using the language as much as their elders.
“I think the first reason that we got excited about it was that this project was promoting the Inuit language, promoting Inuktitut and getting more Inuktitut onto the television so that children can listen to Inuktitut and learn Inuktitut,” said Jakob Gearheard, executive director of Ilisaqsivik, a wellness centre that drives many projects in and around Clyde River.
The project also created new jobs in a place where they are few and far between.
"It was an opportunity to learn some new skills and get involved with recording and versioning,” Gearheard said, “and also a chance for some of the people in Clyde River to earn some money and learn a new skill in being actors.”
Daniel Jaypoody was one of the actors whose voice is heard in the Inuktitut version.
“They had a good crew in putting this program together,” Jaypoody said. “They made it very easy for us, but we had to do many takes in order to finalize it.”
Michelle Illauq was another voice actor from Clyde River. She’s hoping the effort will encourage students to speak and learn Inuktitut.
“More young people need to practice our language,” she said.
Along with the film, 14 episodes of the series have also been versioned in Inuktitut.