IllumiNATION: A celebration of the Winter Solstice


[Screen Description: The screen reads: Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada (English), followed by gouverneure générale du Canada (French). The background is dark blue and the viceregal lion is in the centre of the image, above the text. A watermark at the bottom of the image indicates that this video is owned by Rideau Hall. This same image is also seen at the end of the video.]

Hello, bonjour, [Inuktitut greeting]

The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year. But it is in the dark that our stars shine the brightest.

And under these stars, we tell our stories.

My own began in Arctic Quebec, now Nunavik, where my parents and grandmother taught me and my siblings all we needed to know about our heritage.

And at night? My Inuit grandmother told us legends.

My favourite was always the story of Sedna.

My grandmother would delight in bringing Sedna to life, telling us how she became the ruler of the Inuit underworld. How the different species of seals, walruses and other sea mammals were born.

Oral histories and creation myths are important parts of Inuit, First Nations and Métis cultures. These traditions, and the act of sharing them, are what connects us to each other and to the land and waters.

Equally unique customs and stories are found in every corner of this country, told in a kaleidoscope of languages.

Stories teach us what we need to know: how to treat each other; the difference between good and evil; how kindness is a strength all of its own. They help us grow into who we want to become.

As we get older, we start to form our own tales, taken from our life’s experiences.

We all have a story to tell.

Through my own story, I learned to find my voice and to use it to empower others still struggling to be heard.

As winter begins, as the stars come out in the sky, open your hearts, remember the past and look to the future you want.

Let the stories pour out.

What is yours?