True North Calling

10 Nunavummiut Instagrammers to follow

Lifestyle blogger Anubha Momin in Iqaluit, shares her top ten Nunavummiut Instagrammers who are shedding a new light on the North.
Nunavummiut Instagrammers are dictating their own stories of life in the North for the world to see. Top row (L-R): @learning_inuktitut / @capedorsetart / @akia_inuksuk) Bottom row (L-R): @adinaapplebum / @thejerrycans / @conorgoddard (Instagram)

When I moved to Iqaluit four and-a-half years ago, there were very few Nunavut Instagrammers, which wasn't a surprise.

There was no 3G connectivity in the territory and the BlackBerry was the most popular phone in town. I remember taking my iPhone 4S out on the land, snapping a few pictures before the cold got to its battery, and uploading the snaps at home, patiently waiting 30 minutes for a single post.

But, as they say, good things comes to those who wait, and by the time I co-founded Finding True North, a blog about life in Iqaluit, the local Instagram scene was growing, and I was very excited to be a part of it.

I really noticed the uptick in Nunavut Instagrammers when Finding True North started running Nunavut's first and (still) only Instagram contest with the hashtag #nunagram. Every week since, I've been scrolling through entries from across Nunavut, and I am always blown away by the beauty and breadth of photographs submitted. What I love about #nunagram is that it's crowd-sourced, and for the most part, the sources are Nunavummiut (the people who live in Nunavut).

Historically, a lot of the images that we've seen of the North have come from fly-in, fly-out photographers. Their work is stunning, for sure — polar bears on ice floes and towering glaciers, the aurora dancing over a stark, white tundra, caribou herds crossing — but it also only represents an outsider's view of what about the Arctic is important, interesting, and worthy of sharing.

But now, with social media, we can change how people look at the North, and shift the flow of information from North to South. And we everyday users are good at representing, well, the everyday. From a kid snowboarding in Grise Fiord to a tattoo artist in Kugluktuk, regular Nunavummiut are dictating their own stories for the world to see. Here, in no particular order, are ten Nunavut Instagram accounts that are more than worth a follow.

1. Learning Inuktitut (@learning_inuktitut)

This account has taken a modern approach to teaching a very old language, by combining cool art and memes with an Inuktitut word for each post. But they don't stop at just a word: the account lists the root word in various sentences or forms, giving followers a grammar and spelling lesson, too.

2. Hovak Johnston (@hovakj)

Hovak is an artist and performer who lives in the western Arctic, spending time in both Yellowknife and Kugluktuk, Nunavut. Her feed includes wonderful scenery and shots of her jewellery and beadwork (those moccasins — wow!), but also features photos from the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project. Hovak is a sought-after tattoo artist who uses the stick and poke method to draw beautiful, unique tuniit on clients, and her Instagram shows the process and the final products.

3. Etuangat Akeeagok (@etuangatakeeagok)

Etuangat lives in Grise Fiord, a hamlet of about 150 people on Ellesmere Island, and I love his feed because it features two of my favourite Instagram themes: landscapes and dogs. Etuangat is also an avid snowboarder, who somehow manages to hit the slopes in a place without a chairlift — and captures it all on camera.

4. Cape Dorset Art (@capedorsetart)

Run by the Kenojuak Cultural Centre, this account features and promotes the world-famous prints that come out of Cape Dorset. It's a relatively new account, but has already shared works from some of Nunavut's most beloved artists, including Kenojuak Ashevak, for whom the centre is named.

5. Adina Tarralik Duffy (@adinaapplebum)

Adina is the creator of Ugly Fish, a design company based in Coral Harbour which is best known for creating jewelry from ethically harvested caribou antler, beluga vertebra, teeth, and other found bones. Her account shows off her work, from pieces in progress to final designs, interspersed with daily snapshots of life in Coral.

6. Conor Goddard (@conorgoddard)

I started following Conor when he lived in Kuujjaq, Nunavik (he was #nunagram's first Nunavik winner!) and am so pleased that he has moved on up to Iqaluit! Conor is a fantastic photographer who spends a lot of time on the land, chronicling his dog team, hunting successes and his too-adorable children. Oh, and a few landscape shots thrown in here and there, of course!

7. National Inuit Youth Council (@inuityouth)

Nunavut is not just dramatic landscapes and northern lights; there is a strong, present, deliberate political undercurrent in this territory, and a lot of this power and progress is held by the youth. This includes the National Inuit Youth Council, which not only represents young Inuit in Nunavut, but across Inuit Nunangat. Their Instagram account highlights their work and achievements, and also profiles some of their amazing members. If you want to understand a little more about the history of Inuit, and what they value and fight for going into the future, this account will give you a primer, one square at a time.

8. Shawn Inukshuk (@akia_inuksuk)

Shawn is a photographer and filmmaker whose photos have, to me, always had their own unique style and edit. I can always pick out a Shawn Inukshuk shot on Instagram, in print, or used as a still in a movie. Shawn spends his time between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, and does some wonderful work with long exposures of both water and sky.

9. The Jerry Cans (@thejerrycans)

Ironically, this Iqaluit-based, Inuktitut-singing folk-rock band's Instagram page will take you all over the world, with updates from Alaska to Australia as The Jerry Cans document their tours and concerts. But don't worry, there are lots of Nunavut updates, too, and even their global posts tend to have a little bit of that Northern flair.

10. Becky Qilavvaq (@beckyqilavvaq)

I am so, so happy that this woman finally has Instagram! Becky is a multi-disciplinary artist, throat singer, youth facilitator, fashion designer...and the list goes on. She travels a lot, all over the circumpolar world, and her photos are beautiful. But it's her captions that really captivate; she's so honest and descriptive, and her natural tendencies as an educator show in the funny, informative, engaging text. I look forward to seeing what she does with this new account!

These are just a sampling of the wonderful world created by Nunavut Instagrammers.

Want to catch more secrets of life in Canada's North? Watch True North Calling Fridays on CBC (check your local listings)!

Anubha Momin is a blogger, freelance writer, and producer who splits her time between Iqaluit, Nunavut and Toronto, Ontario. Her blog, Finding True North, covers everything from how-to guides to interviews with the Prime Minister to Northern music reviews, taking a hyper-local approach that appeals to her Nunavut base as well as national readers.