In Canada, there are four recognized Inuit homelands, collectively known as Inuit Nunangat: Nunatsiavut (in Newfoundland and Labrador), Nunavik (in Quebec), Nunavut (the newest and most northerly territory) and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (in the western Arctic). However, approximately 30 per cent of Canadian Inuit live outside these areas. Following Inuk artist Niap in Montreal and Torontomiutaujugut co-founder Joshua Stribbell in Toronto, The 5th Region is a film that seeks to addresses questions around Inuit identity, culture and the displacement felt by many Inuit who live outside their home communities.
Niap and Stribbell recount their experiences struggling with their Inuk identities, with interjections of animated clips throughout by Inuk artist and animator Glenn Gear. They discuss times in their youth when they pushed their culture away because of bullying, the pain they faced because of it and the ways in which they grew to embrace their Inuk identities with pride and love.
One of the best things about this movie is that it’s so relatable. I’ve known many First Nations and Métis people who have had similar questions and struggles with their Indigenous identity. This film spoke volumes to me, as a half-Inuk artist, born and raised in southern Alberta. Seeing a movie that asks the same questions I’ve asked, that conveys the same feelings I’ve had and shows experiences similar to mine was incredibly moving and powerful. What aspects of our identity do we allow or deny? Or feel allowed to embrace? Or are denied from embracing?
Both Stribbell and Niap were once confused about their Inuk identities; now, Stribbell strives to create a safe space for the growing number of urban Inuit in Toronto to learn from and connect with each other, while Niap continues to create artwork that celebrates and incorporates Inuit culture.
Overall, this is a must-see film. Even if you’re not Inuit, First Nations or Métis, there is something that everyone can learn or take away from it.