Johnny Issaluk (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.
His first acting role came 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. Since then he has appeared in film, television, and in the play The Breathing Hole at the 2017 Stratford Festival, which was the first play at a major festival to cast Inuit actors in Inuit roles. He appeared as Sam in the Clint Eastwood-produced film of the bestselling Richard Wagamese novel Indian Horse, and toured indigenous communities screening the film in 2018.
In 2017 he was cast as the Netsilik Hunter in AMC's The Terror, based on the novel by Dan Simmons; it was hailed as a significant step forward in Inuit representation in film and television.
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 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." Both the Telegraph and Times gave the episode four of five stars.
Traditional Inuit Games and community work
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. He stars in the short film Inuit High Kick which was played at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which was also featured at festivals worldwide including the Tromso International Film Festival. He is now retired from competing but visits one hundred schools per year throughout Canada teaching students about Inuit games and culture, and he is the author of the book Traditional Inuit Games for Elementary Students.
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. 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.
He has also been an ambassador for the #Canada150 celebrations (including issuing one of the #Next150 national challenges and demonstrating Inuit Traditional Games at the Canadian Parliament) 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.
|2018||Falls Around Her||Albert|
|2016||Two Lovers and a Bear||Charlie|
|2014||Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes||Man|
|2014||The Orphan and the Polar Bear||Narrator|
|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)|
|2017||The Breathing Hole||Nukilik/Totalik||Stratford Theatre Company/Stratford Festival|
- Neary, Derek (2019-05-15). "Canadian Geographic Society names Johnny Issaluk explorer in residence". Nunavut News. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
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- "The Breathing Hole". Stratford Festival. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
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- 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.
- Midgley, Carol (2018-12-21). "TV review: The 'Christmas' Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
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- Dean, Jan (2013-06-11). "Inuit Arctic Games come to Mississauga". Mississauga.com. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
- Issaluk, Johnny (2013). Games of Survival : Traditional Inuit Games for Elementary School Students. Iqaluit: Inhabit Media. ISBN 978-1927095218.
- 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.
- Meloche, Katherine (2017). "Playing in the Digital Qargi: Iñupiat Gaming and Isuma in Kisima Inŋitchuŋa". Transmotion. 3 (1): 1–21. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
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- "Actor Jared Harris awarded RCGS' Louie Kamookak Medal". Canadian Geographic. 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Pope, Alexandra. "Featured Fellow: Interview with Johnny Issaluk". Canadian Geographic Magazine (January 2019). pp. 80–83.
- "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.
- "'Mr Awesome' now even more awesome: Johnny Issaluk named explorer-in-residence".
- pope (2019-05-13). "Explore: A Canadian Geographic podcast - Episode 6: Johnny Issaluk". Canadian Geographic. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
- News, Nunatsiaq (2019-05-22). "Geographical society welcomes its first Inuk explorer". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
- "Explorer in Residence: Johnny Issaluk - The Royal Canadian Geographical Society". www.rcgs.org. Retrieved 2019-11-20.