Growing up, Echo Henoche loved hearing her grandfather, renowned Inuk artist Gilbert Hay, recount stories and legends passed down through countless generations. Her favourite story was about the white stone atop Mount Sophie, just across the harbour from her home of Nain, Nunatsiavut, on the North Coast of Labrador. The stone is said to be all that remains of a ferocious polar bear that once terrorized the villagers. Legend has it that with the help of a powerful shaman, the community was able to save a young mother and child from the polar bear’s rampage, turning the beast to stone.
Now, in an animated film created in collaboration with the National Film Board, Henoche brings this story to life from her own perspective. Although Shaman is the first film by Henoche, who recently graduated from high school, she has been an active artist since she was a child. At 13, when she sold her first drawing of a seal, her grandfather declared she was a professional artist, and she shed tears of pride and joy. Working with mentor animators and filmmakers at the NFB, including Glenn Gear, Asinnajaq, David Seitz and Elise Simard, Henoche learned new skills and techniques that have transformed her illustrations into a beautiful and personal hand-drawn animation style. Henoche says that her experience will inspire her to create more animations for years to come.