Prior to starting the new year, on December 28th, the Arctic Youth Series 2020 held a Webinar series about “Stories through Photography and Filmmaking” with the help of Global Affairs Canada. This was a free event that examined how Arctic Youth use photography and film to share their experiences with the world through interviews with young Northerners themselves.  Polar educator Samantha McBeth moderated the talks by Asinnajaq, Acacia Johnson, and Eben Hobson. Each speaker brought a unique aspect to the experience of listening to a Northern storyteller, encouragement for aspiring photographers and filmmakers, and a contagious passion for their craft. If you are from the North or interested in film and photography like me, this is the Zoom meeting to check out.


The first to speak was Asinnajaq. Asinnajaq studied film at University, but her journey with her art had a very Northern experience. In a true Northern fashion, she expressed that she liked to learn by watching and doing. It made me reminisce of those elders who tell stories of how they learned to hunt. As respectful as them too, she spoke of approaching her work with integrity: “When I’m making something, I’m thinking about how that’s taking someone’s time, and someone’s giving me their time, and [how I want] to honour and respect that by doing the best that I can.” Asinnajaq’s aesthetic philosophy makes me proud to be from the North.


Acacia Johnson spoke next. Having had formal education in photography and having spent ten years working as a guide and photographer in the North, Acacia shared some useful advice for aspiring artists. A beautiful project of hers in Arctic Bay that was life changing. She also provides resources for new filmmakers and photographers, and expresses how much we have to share with the world. Acacia’s passion for her craft is echoed by her affirming attitude, and expression that photography and film is for everyone. Her presentation is an excellent source for budding artists.


While Asinnajaq left me inspired, and Acacia left me with no excuses, Eben Hopson (the final speaker) left me with purpose. Eben began his film and photography path in high school. He was inspired by photographers visiting his home. Early on, Eben noticed a lack of Indigenous and Northern representation in media. Southerners often see dark winters and freezing cold a stark Northern reality, and villainize subsistence hunting. Eben attempts to dissolve this way of thinking, and attempts to show the true north through an Inuit perspective. To conclude, Eben admits that facing criticism of his work can be scary, but in a true Northern fashion, he continues to create.


After the webinar, and as an Indigenous Northerner myself, I was motivated by the three individual speakers on this webinar to explore their craft. Each speaker had one thing in common with each other, and every other young northerner out there: that we all have something special to share with the world. If film and photography interest you, I would recommend checking this webinar out, and maybe making a late New Year’s resolution to take that camera out a little more.


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