Her six-year-old film on traditional Inuit tattoos will now reach wider audiences after she was inspired by ReMatriate, a group of Indigenous women.

Through interviews with elders across Nunavut, Arnaquq-Baril’s film describes how the practice of tattooing women, which she says used to be nearly universal, was all but stamped out in just one generation as a result of the concerted efforts of Christian missionaries.

Arnaquq-Baril says the cultural significance of Inuit tattooing is great, often marking the maturing of girls into womanhood, but she also says it’s “fragile” and that non-Inuit copying the tattoo designs would be disastrous for Inuit trying to reclaim their culture.

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“There is still a certain amount of shaming that happens to indigenous women and our cultures,” said Kelly Edzerza-Bapty, one of the co-founders of ReMatriate.

“So we decided we had to take action and show authentic representations of true indigenous textiles, fashions and regalia and us owning our culture.”

Filmmaker Arnaquq-Baril said she is inspired by ReMatriate and what she called an explosion of Inuit women now getting tattoos.

“Now that I can’t count all the tattooed women on one hand, I am less afraid to show the film to non-natives,” Arnaquq-Baril said.

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