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Johnny Issaluk

Johnny Issaluk
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Johnny Issaluk, Cultural Educator, Inuit Guide

Taken on August 30, 2018 (uploaded 1/9/19)

The main Inuit percussion instrument is the wooden frame drum called the qilaut. It is made from boiling and bending strips of wood about two to three inches wide into a circular frame with a handle protruding out. Dehaired animal skin, usually caribou, is stretched across the frame and fastened down with a string. The drum can reach one meter in diameter but are usually smaller, around one yard in length.

It is struck on the edge of the rim by a qatuk, or a wooden beater. The resulting sound is a combination of the percussive attack from striking the wood and the resulting vibrations from the stretched membrane.[

Johnny Issaluk is originally from a small arctic hamlet on the coast of Hudson’s Bay in Nunavut called Igluligaarjuk (known as Chesterfield Inlet). His natural acting talent coupled with an impressive physical stature, exceptional athleticism and traditional Inuit hunting and survival skills have led to a series of film and theatre roles for Johnny, most recently including critically acclaimed 'The Breathing Hole' at the Stratford Festival (2017).

Johnny engages deeply with volunteerism and has also served professionally as the Executive Director of the Embrace Life Council; a non-profit organization that endeavours to serve Nunavummiut through suicide prevention, providing support and counseling to residential school survivors and delivering the engaging Inuusivut program teaching photography and filmography to youth.

In 2013 Johnny was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal Award, which celebrates the contributions and achievements of Canadians who have dedicated themselves to serving their fellow citizens, their communities and their country.

As an athlete Johnny has been practicing, competing, performing, coaching and teaching Inuit Games for more than 20 years. Johnny’s athletic career has yielded more than 200 medal finishes in regional and national competitions and has culminated in his status as one of the most successful Inuit Games athletes of his generation.

Recently, he competed at the first ever Beringia Arctic Games, in Chukotka, Russia where he was awarded three gold medals. He is one of the most successful Inuit Games athletes of his generation. Johnny is a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal, and one of the first sixty Canadians to receive the honour. Johnny was recognized for his ongoing contribution to the health and wellbeing of Nunavummiut.

Inuit High Kick:

Johnny Issaluk is from the small arctic hamlet Igluligaarjuk (also known as Chesterfield Inlet), on the coast of Hudson’s Bay in Nunavut. He grew up traditionally, out on the land, hunting, fishing and camping with his elders, as Inuit have for centuries. Traditional life was juxtaposed with conventional education through Residential Secondary School and Nunavut Arctic College in tourism, guiding and environmental technology.

Johnny works with various organizations that address mental health, suicide prevention and healing through counseling and traditional activities. Johnny is also developing a small consulting business, Nurraq Outfitting, which involves public speaking, motivational counseling, land trips, arctic sports demonstrations and all manner of activities that grab his interest.

Among those many interests Johnny is a keen volunteer and youth mentor, teaching arctic games and traditional activities at a local daycare and coaching arctic sports at a local gym are regular appointments for him. One of the youth projects closest to Johnny’s heart is the internationally renowned educational program “Students on Ice” where he has worked with youth from all over the world as an arctic ambassador and spokesman for arctic stewardship.

Kajutaijuq, is a short film that is part of Inuit legend and part thriller. A hunter attempts to survive in the Arctic wilderness by following teachings passed on to him by his late grandfather. It premiered at the Tiff 2014 and is Johnny’s first dramatic acting role.

Johnny has five children, and lives with his wife a son and a dog in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Stars: Tantoo Cardinal, Lewis Hodgson, Johnny Issaluk

Falls Around Her is a Canadian drama film, directed by Darlene Naponse and released in 2018. The film stars Tantoo Cardinal as Mary Birchbark, an internationally famous First Nations musician who returns to her home community to recharge and reevaluate her life, only to find that her fame is not so easily left behind.

The cast also includes Tina Keeper, Gail Maurice, Johnny Issaluk and J.D. Nicholsen. The film was shot on the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation reserve near Sudbury, Ontario.

Despite Cardinal's long and distinguished career as an actress, Falls Around Her was her first-ever starring role as the main protagonist in a film.

The film premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018. It subsequently screened as the opening gala of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in October, where it won the Air Canada Audience Choice Award.

FALLS AROUND HER is a true Northern Ontario and Anishinaabe First Nation film that celebrates the winter of Canada as seen in the landscapes of lake, forests and rivers. The film stars Tantoo Cardinal shining as a world-famous Anishinaabe musician (there is a shot her singing at the stat of the tim – showing some good original music) who returns to the reserve to rest and recharge — only to discover that fame (and the outside world) are not easily left behind.

Her sister Betty (Tina Keeper) senses there may be more to Mary’s need for isolation and urges her to reconnect with family and old friends. As Mary gets out more and even starts dating, it seems as though new possibilities are on the horizon. She has demons to rid off which includes her past manager who is quite the woman abuser, though he gets what he deserves in the end as the film shifts uncomfortably towards horror slasher mode.
Date: 2019-01-10 07:03:21

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