Lucy Tulugarjuk

When Lucy Tulugarjuk watched TV for the first time ever, she wondered why people weren’t speaking in Inuktitut. So it’s no surprise she grew up to become an actress, filmmaker and writer for the screen.

Originally from Igloolik, Nunavut, but currently living in Montreal, QC, Tulugarjuk was a little girl when she was first introduced to television, and remembers a moment there wasn’t any in her community whatsoever.

“I remember my parents signing a petition against the satellite being installed in Igloolik. So I was curious to see why that meant a lot to the community to let go of an opportunity to have a television,” said Tulugarjuk.

Her mother would get calls from her aunt who had one in Hall Beach, and her aunt would tell stories “about the people from the box.” Eventually, she moved to Hall Beach and the first thing Tulugarjuk did was go check out the television.

“When my aunt turned the TV on, well, my cousin, I didn’t understand any of it coming out from the sound, the TV. It was in English and French, and I wish that there was Inuktitut in it, so I can understand.”

Tulugarjuk says it started looming from there. Her jobs have included managing a local community cable show on the Nunavut Independent Television Network, which gave her the chance to create and take part in interviewing elders in Inuktitut.

She was then cast in a feature film called Atanarjuat The Fast Runner (2001), and since then has learned she loved being part of creating and “acting and sharing messages” through the lens of elders, youth, and other Inuit.

Education wise, Tulugarjuk’s was pretty normal. She completed her high school diploma, and went to attend courses at Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa and business admin in Fort Smith.

“I still need to complete my business diploma or hopefully one day degree. But a lot of my education is from our elders, from home,” said Tulugarjuk.

She also credits previous colleagues in film and television for what she’s learned, along with her aunt Madeline, who always told her to believe what she was acting out.

When it comes to students leaving their community for the first time, Tulugarjuk isn’t afraid to admit that it’s a scary experience but to be brave and do it anyway.

Illustration by Shaikara David

“There’ll be some challenges ahead. It’s a big difference between home where there’s no trees and houses, but not lots of houses, lots of people, lots of cars. So ground yourself,” said Tulugarjuk.

It wasn’t a perfect journey for Tulugarjuk to get where she is now, and she says one of her obstacles she’s faced was losing herself and going into “party mode” for a while.

She says it took time to acknowledge her feelings of self-worth and that she took counseling to help heal and “accept that was part of me.”

Tulugarjuk also says it’s okay to fall down and make mistakes — it’s part of the process.

“Keep moving. Move forward and try to learn from the mistake.”

Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.

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