As Canada marked its second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday with events in downtown Ottawa, a group of Inuit living in the city gathered elsewhere to engage in what they called their own form of reconciliation.
Isaruit Inuit Arts began in 2017 when five Inuit women wanted to create a space for Inuit sewers to regularly get together and practice and pass on their traditional skills, according to the group's website.
By 2018, the group made its home at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, formerly Rideau High School in east Ottawa.
That's where a small group of Inuit assembled Friday in Room 117, the school's shop room. They took part in a traditional feast featuring seal meat and listened as former Arctic Bay, Nunavut, resident Aigah Attagutsiaq lit and discussed how she was using a qulliq, a traditional seal-oil lamp.
Rebecca J. Manning, a former resident of Kinngait, Nunavut, who was recently tapped by the federal government to provide translation during Pope Francis's visit to Canada, converted Attagutsiaq's Inuktitut account of her family life into English.
"In the past, everything was arranged, organized by non-Inuit, for Inuit," said Manning. "That has been kind of demeaning to my people.
"Here we have a chance to show that our people are just as capable as any other nation on this earth. It's time that we were recognized for our abilities."
Before Friday's ceremony, Ruben Komangapik, the vice-chair of Isaruit's board of directors and an Inuk carver and filmmaker, was sizing down a recycled piece of wooden furniture in the shop. It will be used as the handle for an ulu, a traditional Inuit knife.
"There's all kinds of ways of mourning. And this a different way," Komangapik said.
"We should never forget what has happened, why we have this day. But we are really wanting to make reconciliation and show the rest of Canada it's possible through learning from our ways."
Friday's showcase was merely the kickoff for a series of cultural displays happening this weekend as part of the Isaruit Inuit Creators' Conference.
Events include a screening of three documentaries Komangapik produced about hunting in his home community of Pond Inlet, Nunavut, speaking sessions, and a popup Inuit arts market at the Ottawa Art Gallery on Sunday and Monday.