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Nunavut Kids Play Lead Roles In Music Video About Ocean Conservation
by Courtney Edgar - Nunatsiaq News
English and Inuktitut production released in time for World Oceans Day
Comedian Vinnie Karetak, left, and Joshua Qaumariaq, the lead singer of the Trade Offs, speak with students at Nanook Elementary School in Apex about the importance of healthy ocean ecosystems. (SCREEN SHOT)

When Iqaluit bluesman Josh Qaumariaq and comedian Vinnie Karetak were tasked with creating a video about the importance of preserving Arctic ocean critters, they had just one little problem.

They didn’t know anything about the subject.

So they asked for some help from a science class at Nanook Elementary School in Apex, which had been studying the importance of Arctic food webs.

The result of this tongue-in-cheek premise is a new music video, Guardians of Tariuq—that’s sea in Inuktitut—released in time for World Oceans Day today.

The English and Inutktitut music video and a longer, uncut version, which includes a humorous interview between the band and the kids, will be shared with Nunavut classrooms as a learning tool.

The video’s real stars are the children, who perform with pouty fish lips and dance like seaweed wiggling underwater. The lyrics and music for the song are also a collaboration between the youth and adults.

The project began in January, when a group of fisheries and environmental organizations reached out to Karetak and Qaumariaq with the idea of highlighting the importance of the eastern Arctic’s new marine conservation areas.

The music video was a team effort with help from friends in the Iqaluit music scene, such as Kris Mullaly, a part-time drummer for the Trade Offs, and Thor Simonsen from the Hitzmakers, who did a lot of mixing to make the song kid-friendly.

When it comes to engaging children, “music and comedy is a fun way to do that,” Qaumariaq said.

With lyrics like, “Come on, take the plunge. Let’s learn about the sea sponge,” the song is intended to celebrate the importance of all inhabitants of Canada’s Arctic ecosystem, including corals, sponges and humans.

As the song goes, “It really matters.” That is because corals support fish by providing shelter and protection for many organisms, which in turn support bigger marine mammals like narwhal.

And, as Karetak said in the video, “narwhal are delicious.”

Baffin Bay and Davis Strait have ancient deep-sea corals, sea sponges and sea pens that can grow up to two metres tall, the video explains, which provide a vital habitat for fish and marine mammals. The project aims to show Nunavummiut the complexity and the sensitivity of these ecosystems that provide many of the foods they eat.

“It’s really to try to educate the public, starting with the kids, on the importance of preserving the ecosystem,” Brian Burke, executive director of Nunavut Fisheries Association, said in a telephone interview.

Susanna Fuller, senior project officer at Oceans North, said there is no better way to communicate the importance of protected areas than with the enthusiasm and creativity of children.

“It is difficult to get to know the creatures living on the sea floor—sponges and corals and sea pens that make up the fragile marine habitat,” Fuller said.

The kids remained engaged during the video’s production, and showed that they understood the significance of ensuring a healthy ocean, she said.

As for Mullaly, he said he felt like “it was a great experience to be involved and to help with something positive and fun for the youth.”

Mullaly, who played the guitar, sang background vocals and helped with the mixing and mastering of the song, said he appreciated being invited to participate.

“Josh and Vinnie are great role models for youth in Nunavut.”

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