Canada's Lancaster Sound, called Tallurutiup Imanga in Inuktitut, is one of the Arctic Ocean’s richest marine habitats—an area of stunning natural beauty and deep cultural significance for Inuit who live there. Located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, the sound’s abundant sea life has sustained Inuit communities for centuries. Through poetry set to spectacular landscapes, this video shows why this region deserves protection, reflecting its myth and magic while not losing sight of the people who call it home.
Based on a poem by Iqaluit artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, the video retells part of the Inuit creation myth of Nuliajuk, goddess of the sea, in light of the profound changes facing local communities due to climate instability and industrial development. The script is narrated by Jeannie Arreak-Kullualik, of Pond Inlet, a community perched on the shore of Lancaster Sound.
The video poses a series of rhetorical questions to Nuliajuk, who was once a young woman reluctant to marry. Eventually, she was tricked into marrying a raven disguised as a hunter. She tried to escape the marriage by fleeing in her father’s kayak, but the angry raven gave chase and unleashed a furious storm. Terrified that they would perish in the gale, her father cast Nuliajuk into the sea. When she clung to the gunwales and threatened to capsize the boat, her father cut off her fingers. According to the myth, her hands became flippers, and her fingers turned into marine mammals and sea creatures, offering sustenance to Inuit for generations.
Pew’s Oceans North Canada has worked since 2009 to help establish a national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound, a designation that would help protect its ecological balance by limiting industrial development. In 2010, the federal government announced proposed boundaries for the national marine park and set up a steering committee to work with the Government of Nunavut, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, and regional Inuit communities to finalize plans. That process has not yet been completed.
For more information, visit Pew’s Oceans North Canada