by Kinnukana, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – The Arctic Journey Gallery at the TELUS World of Science Centre (TELUS) in Edmonton, on Treaty 6 Territory and the homeland of the Métis, celebrated its one-year anniversary on September 16, 2023. The Arctic Journey Gallery aims to present the history and culture of the Arctic region in Canada using audiovisual effects and objects that reflect Indigenous Arctic communities, including the Inuit, Innu, Dene, and Gwich’in. The exhibition comes to life through a variety of immersive sight and sound experiences, allowing visitors to explore the amazing geography, peoples, and animals of the north through four seasons. In honour of the anniversary, TELUS hosted some fun activities and a tour of the gallery.
The event began with the lighting of a Qulliq by Elder Myna Manniapik. The Qulliq is the traditional oil lamp used by the people of the Arctic. In the early Fall, Inuit women gather arctic cotton grass and moss, dry it and combine them to make the wick for the Qulliq. The arctic cotton grass and oil from seal or whale blubber are what fuels the qulliq. Traditionally, the Qulliq provided warmth and heat in homes and light in the darkness of winter. It also helped to cook food. Now, in Inuit culture it is a custom to light the Qulliq before ceremonial events, such as this one.
The Arctic Journey Gallery is being celebrated for educating others about Canada’s North and its Indigenous people. Although it has only been a year since the gallery opened, TELUS set out to develop the Arctic exhibition in 2018 and has been working on it since then with a number of collaborators. TELUS began by establishing a Northern Advisory Circle with members recommended by northern governing bodies. TELUS also partnered with the Inuvialuit Cultural Centre in Inuvik, Northwest Territories which helped guide the process. A full-time Cultural Advisor was also hired to work on the project and a Scientific Advisory Group helped to ensure accurate and relevant science was shared in the exhibition.
The gallery provides fun ways to learn about the Arctic. The anniversary celebration included activities throughout the day, including making Delta Braid Inspired bracelets, tasting Arctic Char and Aqpik Jam, and seeing the popular Inuinnait Drum Dancing. Visitors to the gallery of all ages can enjoy many of these Arctic experiential activities each day throughout the week. Kimberly Tologanak, Lead Arctic Presenter, at TELUS said that they offer programs for all age groups where they do demonstrations, educational activities and share videos. They also have storytelling in the igloo for all ages. Visitors can also go into the Pingo where there is a theatre and watch different legends of the Arctic. Kimberly said that “a lot of our visitors never get to experience the Arctic by actually going up there because it is so expensive to fly there and there are not a lot of roads. For many people, the gallery gives them a feeling of how the Arctic is and what it is like there. They see what kind of flowers and plants are in our Nuna (land), and what kind of clothing we use, and what kind of animals are up there.”
Jennifer Bawden, Senior Manager of Galleries and Research at TELUS shared that the Arctic Journey Gallery takes you through a year in the Arctic. The goal is to transport people to a space that a lot of Southerners in Canada never get to go and feel a connection with. Visitors experience the different seasons as they move through the gallery and the different environments. They experience being near sea ice, the boreal forest, the tundra and the Pingos. The exhibits are stunning and made up of amazing and gorgeous colours.
Another goal of the gallery is to disrupt some of the misconceptions that people might have about the Arctic. Jennifer said that they did front end testing as they were developing ideas for the exhibits and spoke to people in order to get a sense of what they knew or thought about the Arctic. Many people described it as cold with polar bears and one person even thought there were penguins in the Arctic. Jennifer said, “It is just such a rich diverse place in terms of flora and fauna and cultural diversity, with many people living across the Arctic, we just really wanted to bring that here to show everyone and dispel those myths. We hope people walk out with the knowledge and with a sense of awe and appreciation and respect for the environment, the people that live there, and the land in general.”
For more information on The Arctic Journey Gallery and how you can visit, check out the following website: Arctic Journey | TELUS World of Science (telusworldofscienceedmonton.ca)