Illusionist brings “magical messaging” to troubled western Nunavut community

Brian Glow uses "magic" to tackle bullying, depression, suicide


Professional illusionist Brian Glow is set to perform in Gjoa Haven tonight and tomorrow. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Professional illusionist Brian Glow is set to perform in Gjoa Haven tonight and tomorrow. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

“Magical messaging” is coming to Gjoa Haven, as illusionist Brian Glow brings his show today and tomorrow to this western Nunavut community of about 1,300 people, which has been beset with big truancy issues and social problems.

Glow, who calls himself “the master of illusion and fun,” said his performance tonight for all ages and his appearances at the Gjoa Haven’s two schools on Tuesday are designed to make residents of all ages “amazed.”

But his shows are also intended to help people deal with hard issues, such as bullying, cyberbullying, depression and suicide, Glow said in an interview before his departure from Winnipeg.

That goal comes out of Glow’s own childhood, during which he said he was almost killed twice during separate bullying incidents.

Those experiences took him years to recover from, he said—and learning how to perform staged tricks or seemingly impossible illusions means helped point the way.

Glow, who has worked as an illusionist since the 1970s, performing in Canada and internationally, said a turning point his career took place a few years ago when a young Indigenous child, who had tried to kill himself several times, said a counsellor had asked him if there been anything good in his life to date.

“The only thing was the magic show,” the child said, referring to the show that Glow had performed at the child’s school.

His show, which includes a lot of audience involvement, includes a sleight-of-hand illusion with disappearing and re-appearing coins. The act also involves bullying, with one student trying to extort another for his lunch money as coins pop out of improbable places.

By switching the roles of the bully and his victim during the sketch, Glow said he tries to show how bullying is a balance of power, and how a victim can take back that power.

“The audience is laughing, but they get the message,” Glow said.

On previous visits to Nunavut, language hasn’t been an issue for Glow, although an interpreter was often on hand in some Kivalliq communities he visited last year.

That 2017 tour, judging on a series of testimonials on YouTube, such as this one from Rankin Inlet, was well-received.

Glow is now in the Kitikmeot region, thanks to the sponsorship of First Air, Calm Air, Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., and Inns North. He will travel May 12 to Iqaluit where he is scheduled to perform at the annual Kamatsiaqtut Help Line fundraising gala.

In Gjoa Haven, Glow will also be accompanied by a Winnipeg rapper called Unkel Adams who has, among other things, produced an anti-bullying video.

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