Aboriginals are among those feting Queen Elizabeth II this weekend for her Diamond Jubilee, the 60th year of her reign.
The group Artcirq had a first-hand role in the celebrations with a performance before the Queen herself in mid-May at Windsor Castle. Artcirq, based in Igloolik, performed at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) act Musical Ride, reported the Nunatsiaq News.
This weekend marks the official bank holiday in the UK, with celebrations happening from June 2 through 5. On June 2, 1,000 barges will float down the Thames River, the lead one carrying the Queen and the Royal Family. The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 upon the death of her father, King George VI. Her coronation took place the following year, on June 2, 1953. The only other monarch in British history to celebrate this Jubilee milestone was Queen Victoria, who did so in 1897.
The show, officially titled Around the World in 60 Years and 90 Minutes, featured acts from places the Queen has visited during her decades-long reign. More than 550 horses and 1,000 performers participated in the seven-act show. Artcirq and the RCMP were part of the “Americas” section of the show in all four performances on May 10, 11 and 13, the Inuit advocacy group Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) said in a statement.
“Our group is honoured and excited to perform for Her Majesty. It is something we will never forget,” said Artcirq co-Artistic Director Terry Uyarak in the ITK statement.
Representing Artcirq in Windsor were artistic director Guillaume Ittukssarjuat Saladin (Igloolik), drum dancers Terence Uyarak (Igloolik) and Thomas Johnston (Iqaluit) and throat singers Lois Suluk-Locke (Arviat) and Celina Kalluk (Iqaluit) as well as her newborn baby Ramata Diarra Kalluk.
American Indians participated too, with Donald Pepion, Blackfeet, an associate professor from New Mexico State University, and one of 10 Natives to perform before and meet Queen Elizabeth. They shared the stage with the likes of singer Susan Boyle, the classical violinist David Garrett and South African actors from The Lion King.
It’s a fitting tribute for this troupe of young performers founded in the late 1990s by Guillaume Saladin, the son of anthropologists who had spent his childhood summers in Igloolik. Artcirq has been credited with combatting depression in the remote community and perhaps averting suicides as well, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The group is a collective of young performers who combine tradition Inuit culture with modern circus moves to create a unique hybrid that includes throat singing, music, drum dancing and juggling.
It’s not the group’s first time in the world spotlight; in 2010 Artcirq members performed at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.