Johnny Issaluk

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Johnny Issaluk builds an igloo.

Johnny Nurraq Seotaituq Issaluk CM (born August 1, 1973) is an Inuk actor, athlete, and cultural educator from Nunavut.  He is best known for his roles in AMC's The Terror (produced by Ridley Scott), the film Indian Horse (produced by Clint Eastwood), and in the BBC program The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan. In May 2019 he was named Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Explorer-in-Residence.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was raised in Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet), Nunavut, on the west coast of Hudson Bay.



His first acting role was in the short film titled Inuit High Kick which was played at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He later acted as the lead in the film Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 as one of the first Inuit-made films to screen at a major international film festival.[2] Since then he has appeared in film, television, and in the play The Breathing Hole at the 2017 Stratford Festival,[3] which was the first play at a major festival to cast Inuit actors in Inuit roles.[4][5] He appeared as Sam[6] in the Clint Eastwood-produced film of the bestselling Richard Wagamese novel Indian Horse, and toured indigenous communities screening the film in 2018.[7]

In 2017 he was cast as the Netsilik Hunter in AMC's The Terror,[8] based on the novel by Dan Simmons; it was hailed as a significant step forward in Inuit representation in film and television.[9][10]

Most recently he guest starred as himself alongside British comedian Romesh Ranganathan in The Christmas Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan (originally aired on the BBC on 20 December 2018[11] in which "travelling across frozen wastelands to spend a week in the largest territory of Canada, [Ranganathan] is guided by his host - Inuit athlete, movie star, youth ambassador and renowned hunter Johnny Issaluk," where he "witnesses an erosion and resurgence of Inuit traditions."[12] Both the Telegraph[13] and Times[14] gave the episode four of five stars.

He has also played a recurring role on the APTN comedy sketch show Qanurli? as "The Most Interesting Man in Nunavut."[15]

Traditional Inuit Games and community work[edit]

Before becoming an actor he was best known as a successful Traditional Inuit Games athlete, competing regionally and internationally for twenty years and winning over two hundred medals.[16][17]  He stars in the short film Inuit High Kick[18] which was played at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which was also featured at festivals worldwide including the Tromso International Film Festival.[19] He is now retired from competing but visits one hundred schools per year throughout Canada teaching students about Inuit games and culture,[20] and he is the author of the book Traditional Inuit Games for Elementary Students.[21][22][23]

He was one of the first sixty Canadians (and the first Nunavummiuq) to receive the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for his advocacy of the people of Nunavut.[24] He was a member of the 2012 Arctic Jubilee Expedition that successfully climbed the highest point of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, and sent a video greeting to Queen Elizabeth II. The expedition, sponsored by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, was followed by schools in the UK and Canada and allowed approximately 17,400 students to learn about Inuit culture.[25]

He has also been an ambassador for the #Canada150 celebrations (including issuing one of the #Next150 national challenges[26] and demonstrating Inuit Traditional Games at the Canadian Parliament[27]) and has been active with many educational programs including Students on Ice and the Sedna Epic Expedition. In 2018 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for his role in The Terror and his community advocacy, and in 2019 he was named the RCGS's sixth Explorer-in-Residence.[28][29][30][1][31][32][33][34]

In 2019, Issaluk received the Order of Canada.[35]

On Feb. 4, 2020, Indspire announced that Issaluk was a winner of one of its 2020 awards.[36] Indspire suspended this award on February 6[37] after Nunavut filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril alleged that Issaluk had made inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances toward her at a party several years ago. On February 7 Issaluk issued an apology,[38] in a widely distributed open letter.[39]



Year Film Role
2018 Falls Around Her Albert
2017 Indian Horse Sam
2016 Two Lovers and a Bear Charlie
2014 Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes Man
2014 The Orphan and the Polar Bear Narrator


Year Program Role Episodes
2018 The Terror Netsilik Hunter "Go for Broke" (S1/E1)

"The C, the C, the Open C" (S1/E9)

"We Are Gone" (S1/E10)

2016 Murdoch Mysteries Nuniq "The Big Chill" (S9/E10)
2018 The Christmas Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan Himself "The Arctic" (S1/E4)


Year Production Role Company
2017 The Breathing Hole Nukilik/Totalik Stratford Theatre Company/Stratford Festival


  1. ^ a b Neary, Derek (2019-05-15). "Canadian Geographic Society names Johnny Issaluk explorer in residence". Nunavut News. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  2. ^ Sep 11, CBC News · Posted; September 11, 2014 5:54 AM CT | Last Updated; 2014. "Nunavut filmmakers take horror short, Kajutaijuq, to TIFF | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2019-01-06.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "The Breathing Hole". Stratford Festival. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  4. ^ "Indigenous actors learn at Stratford Festival but teach too: Wednesday Matinée | The Star". Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  5. ^ "Gasp at emotional depth of Breathing Hole at Stratford Festival: review | The Star". Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  6. ^ "Indian Horse Feature Film". Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  7. ^ "Indian Horse touring Indigenous communities". Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  8. ^ The Terror, retrieved 2019-01-06
  9. ^ Eschner, Kat. "Tales of the Doomed Franklin Expedition Long Ignored the Inuit Side, But "The Terror" Flips the Script". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  10. ^ "Nunavummiuq actor basks in The Terror". Nunavut News. 2018-04-03. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  11. ^ The Christmas Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan: The Arctic, retrieved 2019-01-06
  12. ^ "BBC Two - The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, Christmas". BBC. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  13. ^ Hogan, Michael (2018-12-20). "The 'Christmas' Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, review: an enlightening, amusing jaunt through the Canadian Arctic". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  14. ^ Midgley, Carol (2018-12-21). "TV review: The 'Christmas' Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  15. ^ "Pics & Vids – Qanurli". Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  16. ^ "Star power headlines Nunavut get active campaign". CBC. Aug 25, 2014.
  17. ^ "Canadian athlete looks back at Beringia Arctic Games". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  18. ^ Hamilton, Mark (2013-04-22), Inuit High Kick, retrieved 2018-10-03
  19. ^ "INUIT HIGH KICK". Tromsø International Film Festival (in Norwegian Bokmål). 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  20. ^ Dean, Jan (2013-06-11). "Inuit Arctic Games come to Mississauga". Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  21. ^ Issaluk, Johnny (2013). Games of Survival : Traditional Inuit Games for Elementary School Students. Iqaluit: Inhabit Media. ISBN 978-1927095218.
  22. ^ Campbell, Sandy (23 January 2014). "Games of Survival: Traditional Inuit Games for Elementary Students by J. Issaluk". The Deakin Review of Children's Literature. 3 (3). doi:10.20361/G27P5M.
  23. ^ Meloche, Katherine (2017). "Playing in the Digital Qargi: Iñupiat Gaming and Isuma in Kisima Inŋitchuŋa". Transmotion. 3 (1): 1–21. doi:10.22024/UniKent/03/tm.246. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal given to 60 Canadians". National Post. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  25. ^ "Arctic Jubilee Expedition (Royal Canadian Geographical Society)". Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Inuit Games". #Next150. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  27. ^ "Passport 2017". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  28. ^ "Actor Jared Harris awarded RCGS' Louie Kamookak Medal". Canadian Geographic. 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  29. ^ Pope, Alexandra. "Featured Fellow: Interview with Johnny Issaluk". Canadian Geographic Magazine (January 2019). pp. 80–83.
  30. ^ "Saskatchewan Tour to begin this Monday! Gifts of love and friendship to be distributed to 20 Indigenous communities across Canada during National School Celebration Tour |". 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  31. ^ "'Mr Awesome' now even more awesome: Johnny Issaluk named explorer-in-residence".
  32. ^ pope (2019-05-13). "Explore: A Canadian Geographic podcast - Episode 6: Johnny Issaluk". Canadian Geographic. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  33. ^ News, Nunatsiaq (2019-05-22). "Geographical society welcomes its first Inuk explorer". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  34. ^ "Explorer in Residence: Johnny Issaluk - The Royal Canadian Geographical Society". Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  35. ^ Zimonjic, Peter. "Nobel laureate Donna Strickland, James Cameron, Inuk actor Johnny Issaluk among Order of Canada appointees". CBC News. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  36. ^ Deer, Jessica (February 4, 2020). "Inuit games athlete, Anishinaabe midwife, Blackfoot filmmaker among this year's Indspire winners". CBC News. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  37. ^ Deuling, Meagan (2020-02-06). ""I stand by Alethea": Male Inuit leaders speak out in support of account of alleged sexual assault". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved 2020-02-09.
  38. ^ "Johnny Issaluk responds to allegations". CBC. 2020-02-07. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  39. ^ Issaluk, Johnny (2020-02-07). "Johnny Issaluk issues public apology". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved 2020-02-09.

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