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People & Culture

Making a Northern Scene

Experience northern art in the south
  • Feb 28, 2013
  • 449 words
  • 2 minutes
Artcirq, a circus troupe from Igloolik, Nunavut, will perform in Ottawa as part of the National Arts Centre’s Northern Scene festival Expand Image

When we think of Canada’s northern arts scene, First Nations drum dances and soapstone carvings may come to mind. Beatboxing teens and circus performers generally do not. But the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa is about to change that by giving southerners a chance to experience the North’s rich artistic landscape with Northern Scene, a 10-day festival bringing together 250 northern artists in 50 events featuring everything from live performances to visual and media arts exhibits.

“We call it the North but it’s not all one region,” says Heather Moore, the festival’s executive director and producer. “The people are very different in their cultures, land and experiences.”

The event, part of the NAC’s series of biennial festivals that have celebrated Canada’s regions since 2003, includes performances from: A Circumpolar Soundscape, a collaboration of female aboriginal singer-songwriters from the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Greenland; Artcirq, a circus troupe from Igloolik, Nunavut; and a performance by Nelson Tagoona, a young artist from Baker Lake, Nunavut, who puts a beatboxing spin on Inuit throat-singing.

Northern Scene runs from April 25 to May 4 in venues across the city. For more information visit

A taste of the North in the South Not in Ottawa? Not a problem. Galleries and exhibits dedicated to Canada’s North can be found all over the country.

Northern People, Northern Knowledge Exhibit, Online
This interactive Virtual Museum exhibit looks at Canada’s first expedition to the Arctic from 1913 to 1918.

Race to the End of the Earth Exhibit, Victoria
It’s not about the North, but this exhibit recounting Roald Amundsen and Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s 1911 to 1912 race to be the first person to reach the South Pole should serve to whet your appetite for all things polar.

Bearclaw Gallery, Edmonton
This First Nations and Inuit art dealer and gallery includes collections of Inuit soapstone sculptures by master carvers.

Arctic/Sub-Arctic Gallery, Winnipeg
A permanent exhibit at the Museum of Manitoba, the Arctic/Sub-Arctic Gallery includes wildlife displays and exhibits on Canada’s Arctic peoples and cultures.

Museum of Inuit Art, Toronto
The Museum of Inuit Art is Southern Canada’s only public museum exclusively devoted to displaying Inuit art collections from artists across Canada.

Labrador Coast Exhibit, Montréal
Catch a glimpse of subarctic wildlife, from Atlantic puffins to eider ducks, in the Biodôme de Montréal’s Sub-Polar Regions gallery.

Houston North Gallery, Lunenburg, N.S.
Dedicated to showing, selling and educating the public on Inuit art and culture, the Houston family spent many years living in the Arctic before moving south.


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