Inuit lifestyle film picked up by National Geographic
Rigolet hunter/artist struggles to keep culture alive
An Adventure Canada film about a Nunatsiavut hunter and artist has been featured by the National Geographic Short Film Showcase.
“Inuit were born to be outside,” intones the voiceover on the trailer to “Keeper of the Flame” selected by National Geographic for the showcase this past summer. “My earliest memories of growing up with my family was connected to the land. Using dog teams, skin tents, kayaks, you lived on the land; you took what you needed.”
The voice should be a familiar one to many in Labrador.
Derrick Pottle was born, raised and still lives in Rigolet when he’s not out on the land or guiding for Adventure Canada, a company that specializes in Arctic and Antarctic cruises.
The film, by Jason Van Bruggen, is a stark and compelling depiction of the traditional Inuit way of life that Pottle is doing his best to preserve against outside natural and political pressures, such as climate change and bans on sealskins and other marine mammal products. That is why he agreed to do the film in the first place.
“My main reason is just to bring awareness to our lifestyle and . . . let the world know that when people go out and make decisions and protest and try to disrupt people’s lives, the total impact that it has on communities and people’s lives,” he told The Labradorian.
Van Bruggen was attracted to Pottle’s story for the same reason and thought he made a great ambassador for the Inuit community.
“I felt it was important to capture Derrick’s story and share it with the world because it was a first-hand perspective that
“At one time people could make 30 and 40 thousand dollars a year by selling sealskins, now you can barely sell a sealskin anymore.”
looked at the story of climate change and culture change in the north from an emotional, personal and communitybased perspective rather than the more common scientific or academic perspective,” he said via email. “People are inundated with factual arguments from people that might not even be experiencing the first-hand effects of these changes in a profound way.”
Pottle noted the pace change makes it difficult keep youth engaged.
“There is interest into (the traditional lifestyle) but the dependency isn’t what it used to be because of the bans on sealskins and other marine mammal products, that totally impacted people’s lives. At one time people could make $30$40,000 of to a year by selling sealskins, now you can barely sell a sealskin anymore.”
Outside influences can also consume time, and detract from participation in traditional activities.
In his own lifetime, Pottle has seen northern Labrador communities change; from not even having electric power to having all the modern conveniences and distractions of the world at large.
“In a very short period of time, our life has changed pretty much the same as everywhere else, all over the world,” Pottle said. “What the outside world has in regards of technology and modern advancements, we have all of that in the communities, except that we’re isolated.”