We deserve a pat on the back. That’s part of the point of From the North says Kim Winnicky, executive producer of the arts performance and show, a Canada 150 project being produced by Music Yukon.
“We (in the territories) don’t often get a chance to celebrate ourselves.”
Beginning this month, the show’s all-northern team of 42 performers and production crew will head out on a six-stop tour of the country to share northern music, dance, stories, visual art and athletics.
The tour begins in Whitehorse on Sunday, October 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Canada Games Centre with a free festival showcasing the artists and performers from all three territories. They will practice their crafts – singing, creating new work and demonstrating carving and sculpting.
Athletes, including Yukon’s Kuduat Shorty-Henyu, will teach audiences how to play northern sports such as the one-foot kick and the arm pull.
At 7:30 p.m. a ticketed show at the Yukon Arts Centre features throat singing, hip-hop dancing, singing, and storytelling from performers including Quantum Tangle, Sophie Villeneuve, Borealis Soul and the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers.
As well, a touring visual art exhibit, called Northern Light, showcases work from six artists whose pieces focus on their experience of light in the north. It will be displayed at the Yukon Arts Centre community gallery during the month of October.
The show then travels to Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver.
“So often the north is seen as this unique cultural area by people outside of the north,” Winnicky said. “Often when southerners present northern acts, they present their view of what the north is.
“It’s not wrong, but you can’t understand it unless you live here.”
Even then, she says, it can be tough. Between the three territories there are major differences in the way northerners experience the north. Topography is different and populations are diverse.
That’s why Music Yukon put the show together in partnership with the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre and the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre in Northwest Territories, and the Alianait Arts Festival in Nunavut.
“We wanted to make it so Whitehorse wasn’t curating our vision of the north, either,” Winnicky said.
She said it’s been amazing to see the way the teams in each territory have bridged distances to curate a show that captures the essence of all three places – something that can be difficult to understand without actually going there.
Winnicky believes that art is one the few avenues that can help you grasp and there’s something about art that allows for a greater understanding of place. That artists have the ability to translate place into expression. Into feelings. And that’s especially true of northern art.
“The big word that I’ve heard a lot in the music scene is authentic,” she said. “Up here, people don’t take the easy path. We have room and space to create and find our own voice. That’s authentic… artists have a way to (find) that feeling that I get when I go walk in the mountains or when I go paddling. There are artists who can capture that feeling and reflect it back to me and back to others.”
Ultimately, she hopes that’s what From the North does – for both southerners and northerners alike.
For a full schedule and to buy tickets, visit www.North150Nord.ca.