16mm experimental animated documentary. Hand-processed, raw camera footage.
In a Name is a 16mm animated stop motion documentary portrait that details the life of Kiviaq, who changed the landscape for Inuit in Canada. Kiviaq was a very important Inuk. He was a handsome man and he lived many lives. He was born in 1936 on a trap line near Igluligaarjuk in what is now Nunavut. In a colonial taking, he was brought to live in the south by an RCMP officer. He was a Golden Gloves boxing champion, he was the world’s first Inuk lawyer, and he was the only Inuk who was ever an Eskimo (he played for the Edmonton Eskimos). He was a call-in talk radio personality, a skilled horseman, an elected city Alderman and he even ran for Mayor. He was also a shit disturber. He fought for young offenders and Indigenous people of all kinds to be treated fairly in a court of law. He fought the provincial government for the right to reclaim his original singular Inuk name, Kiviaq. He fought the federal government for Inuit to be defined in law in an epic court battle that spanned 15 years. He fought and eventually lost the fight with cancer and did it all with an incredible sense of humour.
Using Kiviaq’s vast personal collection, this animated portrait will construct a record, a document, an archive of his storied life, both the dominant narratives and the erased histories. The film centres on the practice of naming in Inuit culture and Kiviaq’s landmark legal challenge to reclaim his singular Inuk name. For Inuit, naming is very important. Names connects a person to their atiapik or namesake, and names are passed down in community without gender. When Kiviaq was taken from his home in 1936, his name was taken too. His story is important and parallels many of the other attempts of the dominant culture to suppress Inuit cultural identity.