Have you seen the mighty Kiviuq? Have you met him in your travels? Kiviuq was said to have been born not long after Sister Sun and Brother Moon took to the sky to light up the world. In his many lives he has been everywhere, and the most wonderful tales are told about him….
Can you imagine western culture without Homer’s Odysseus? In Canada, in the minds of Inuit elders, lives a shaman/hero of equal power – suppressed for a century. “You know what this is, don’t you?” asks elder Samson Quinangnaq (1924 – 2006), “It’s the secret Bible of the Inuit. Kiviuq was a prophet, and these stories are his parables.”
The story is as old as Inuit themselves. It begins when a great hunter is killed. As he was the only villager to show kindness to the hunter’s orphaned son, Kiviuq is spared the terrible vengeance of the boy’s grandmother. Set adrift by the tempest that kills his fellow hunters, Kiviuq embarks on a series of adventures that span millennia, and rival those of brave Odysseus: Winning a shamanic battle, he escapes becoming Bee Woman’s dinner – Using his keen powers of observation, he perceives that his Wolf wife is in fact her mother, disguised – His favourite wife dies at his hand, then returns as a Fox to care for him, and after he loses her, and tracks her down, she lets him win her back – He escapes the jaws of a Grizzly by convincing her to drink a river. When she bursts, fog is created – He courts and marries a Goose. She migrates, he follows her South, where he remains, now so old his face is turning to stone…
In overcoming the many obstacles on his journey, Kiviuq leaves behind a legacy of choices: some are good, some are bad, but all are about survival. “Kiviuq is a story for our time. The recollection of a culture that has something important to tell us: Live carefully, so others may live.” – Don Hill, Broadcast journalist/filmmaker Inuit were forbidden by missionaries to speak of their ancient hero – but many elders believe he is still alive today. In this genre-defying performing arts film by the awardwinning team of director John Houston and producer Peter d’Entremont, joined by emerging producer Kirt Ejesiak, the last elders raised on stories of Kiviuq’s odyssey collaborate with youth to reveal – perhaps to resurrect – their secret Bible.” ‘Kiviuq’ is important because it doesn’t alter the story. It is easy to see why John Houston is respected by Inuit, young and old. He brings the stories of our Elders alive in their own voices, to be passed down to future generations.” – Angela Hovak Johnston, Inuit youth/performer
Ours is a time when we need heros – authentic heros. By participating in the rebirth
of Kiviuq, we Canadians can confirm the value of our own stories. …From the time Kiviuq settled among the men without fur clothing, we have known nothing more to tell about him. All we know is that he is alive, and before he ends his last life he will once more see his countrymen and his native land… – as told to Knud Rasmussen, 1920’s