Tanya Tagaq blasts “racist” film for illegal use of her music

Courtesy of Wikipedia CC

The film “of the North” was shown at RDIM, Montreal’s International Documentary film festival.

Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq is asking for a public apology from a National Film Board executive producer for defending a “racist” film about Inuit life that used Tagaq and another Nunavut artist’s music without permission.

Instead of interacting with Tagaq, executive producer Collette Loumède initially blocked Tagaq on Twitter when she asked for a public apology over her comments about of the North.

The film is made up of youtube videos stitched together by director Dominic Gagnon. Of the North shows snowmobiling, hunting, video of Inuit people who appear intoxicated, and crashing quads.

Gagnon used music from the two artists, who were equally outraged at the use of their intellectual property for the found-video film.

Loumède had apparently called the film “beautiful” and wouldn’t engage with other Inuit who voiced criticism, Tagaq wrote.

Courtesy of Wikipedia CC

Courtesy of Wikipedia CC

However, Loumède said “no harm intended” and that she didn’t know what blocking “meant on Twitter,” she tweeted. Neither the NFB nor Loumède have any relation to the film, Loumède wrote.

She did not apologize for her comments in support of the film. 

Tagaq also blasted the Montreal International Documentary film festival (RIDM) responsible for approving the film by Montreal director Dominic Gagnon. Tagaq was was “disgusted” by their decision to screen the film, she wrote.

RIDM, reached out to Six Shooter records and expressed willingness to meet with Tagaq, in a tweet.

Another Inuit musician, Kelly Fraser, also had her music used in the same film without permission.

The music made “stereotypical depictions” of Inuit people, Fraser tweeted. Of the North was “unoriginal” and made Fraser “ashamed” of the festival, Fraser said.

The film is described as presenting, “Inuit self-perceptions.” The film-maker is “driven by the uncanny intensity of a people who live in a merciless environment, [which] exacerbates the violence, culture shock and fierce beauty of a world that becomes, before his eyes, a true Interzone,” according to the festival website.

By showing the film RDIM allowed the “deepening of racism of Inuit,” Fraser tweeted.

CKLB did not immediately hear back from the NFB or Loumède for comment.

About the Author

Avery Zingel
Avery Zingel is multimedia reporter stationed in Yellowknife, NWT. Her work focuses on environment, feminism, indigenous and Canadian politics. She is a canoe guide, guitarist, cyclist and photographer. Avery is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism and Political Science.