What is the Cirqiniq Program?
Cirqiniq is a combination of the English word circus and the Inuktitut word siqiniq (sun). Essentially, Cirqiniq is a social circus program integrating Inuit culture and the arts. The Cirqiniq Program was created in 2009 pursuant to a five-year agreement between the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) and the Cirque du Monde program implemented by Cirque du Soleil for vulnerable youth. More specifically, the Cirqiniq Program is implemented by the KRG Recreation Department with the advisory support of Cirque du Monde.
Through circus arts, the Cirqiniq Program gives youth an opportunity to express themselves and explore their boundaries. It appeals to a wide range of interests, teaching different forms of performance and visual arts, including juggling, acrobatics, dance, music, clowning and set design. By fostering Inuit culture, self-esteem, a sense of belonging, creative expression and perseverance, the Cirqiniq Program promotes positive lifestyle choices among participants and meaningful contributions to their communities. The Program targets all youth, including those who no longer attend school.
Autonomy and Sustained Inuit Cultural Heritage
Since its inception, the Cirqiniq Program has been constantly evolving in order to be able to offer Nunavik youth stimulating workshops that incorporate emerging trends, Inuit storytelling and legends.
With a view to developing independent circus arts programs in every community, seasoned senior instructors from the Cirque du Soleil visit the communities to provide training to junior instructors. The junior instructors will thus be enabled to operate their local program without the continual presence of senior instructors, who are freed to deliver assistance for other purposes.
In 2015, the KRG will conduct visits to all 14 Nunavik communities to re-assess their continued interest in the Cirqiniq Program and their capacities. As well, a new mandate aimed at more fully integrating elements of traditional Inuit culture is now at the heart of all the activities of the Cirqiniq Program.
Cirqiniq Program 2015 - Main Projects
Winter and Fall Tours
Visits will be conducted to all 14 Nunavik communities to deliver junior-instructor workshops and organize training for youth circus artists aged 13 and older.
Seven junior instructors, escorted by two senior instructors, will travel to Igloolik, where they will create a performance for Igloolimmiut in cooperation with the Artcirq Program.
Cirqiniq Summer Camp
The sixth annual Cirqiniq Summer Camp will be organized this year at Kangiqsualujjuaq from July 21 to 27. Between 40 and 50 youth from across Nunavik will participate in group workshops and training to develop their creativity and improve their artistic skills. Throughout the week-long camp, participants will contribute to the creation of a grand finale performance. Gatherings will also be organized to talk about suicide prevention, alcohol and drug addiction, and healthy eating.
Partnership - A Perequisite to the Success of the Cirqiniq Program
The importance of the support received from various regional and local organizations cannot be understated. This support makes the Cirqiniq Program, and its focus on Nunavik youth, sustainable. Listed below are the partners of the Cirqiniq Program and brief descriptions of their generous contributions.
Air Inuit offers 30% discounts on all flights for the purpose of the Cirqiniq Program.
Cirque du Monde (Cirque du Soleil)
In addition to sharing their social-intervention expertise, the social circus instructors possess a thorough knowledge of technical skills, safety rules and teaching methods suited to the context and participants. The projects are adapted to each community and a positive influence in the lives of the youth participants.
Ungava Tulattavik Health Centre
In 2011, the Cirqiniq Program and the Ungava Tulattavik Health Centre partnered so that youth participants would have access to social-worker support. Ungava Tulattavik social workers attend Cirqiniq activities to provide support and direct responses for youth participants, as required.
Kativik School Board
Nunavik schools are committed to the Cirqiniq Program, providing after-class use of school gymnasiums at no charge for Cirqiniq Program activities. As well, school administrators regularly invite circus instructors to take part in physical education classes. Cirqiniq Program staff maintain regular contact with school directors to make sure scheduled Cirqiniq activities do not interfere with the school calendar and to keep teaching staff informed of developments.
Local recreation coordinators assist Cirqiniq junior instructors throughout workshops and with preparations for performances.
Avataq Cultural Institute
Theatre instructors and facilitators of the Avataq Cultural Institute participated for the first time in 2014 in the Cirqiniq Summer Camp. This role will continue to grow as the Cirqiniq Program integrates Inuit culture more and more into workshops and performances in the communities. The Avataq Cultural Institute has built a solid reputation in Canada and abroad as a cultural leader. Avataq’s mission is to ensure that Nunavik Inuit culture continues to develop so that future generations may continue to benefit from the rich heritage and wisdom transmitted by their ancestors.