From Canada’s snowy North to the beaches of Dubai, seven performers made the trek to the United Arab Emirates this month to showcase their talents at the Dubai Expo 2020.
They sang, acted and wowed the crowd with the hide of a polar bear that had been caught some 15 years ago, said Reena Qulitalik, a member of the performing arts collective Artcirq.
The 2020 world expo — so called because it was originally postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — is a months-long event and the first of its kind to be held in that region, according to Global Affairs Canada. More than a dozen Canadian performers have taken the stage there over the past six months, culminating this month with Artcirq’s performance.
“There are a lot of things I learned during this trip. Our culture is not the only one that’s still living,” said Qulitalik, who is from Igloolik, Nunavut.
“It was amazing to see different types of people with different types of food, different types of cultures that they shared with us.”
Qulitalik — a throat singer, juggler and actor — joined two others from Igloolik, two from Iqaluit and two from Montreal in making the trip to Dubai. She said her group spent about a week performing in the city, and it was an opportunity for Artcirq’s members to show their creativity.
One of their performances includes the use of a polar bear skin, worn by one of Artcirq’s members.
“It went around the audience at one point and the audience was amazed and surprised to see [it],” she said.
Though they didn’t have a lot of time to explore the event and city, the food and architecture stood out to Qulitalik.
“There were so many things to see. There were over a hundred countries all over the world that came to that place,” she said.
“It’s my privilege to see all those things and share my culture around the world [with] who I get to meet with.”
In the wake of the event, she said she has a message for Nunavummiut.
“Keep going for your dreams and goals,” she said.
“One day, you’ll be able to see what the world has to offer.”