Inuit, indigenous, kiss

Shina and Kayuula Novalinga show what a kunik looks like.

Most Americans have heard the term "Eskimo kiss" and probably have a mental picture of what one is. What many of us may not know is that 1) Eskimo is an outdated term that is generally rejected by the indigenous people of the north to whom it refers, and 2) what we imagine about that "kiss" is not actually accurate.

An Inuit daughter and mother duo shared what a kunik—the correct term for it—really looks like in a video on TikTok. Shina Novalinga shares a lot about Inuit culture on her TikTok channel, and her mother Kayuula Novalinga often joins her to demonstrate this expression of affection.

First, they showed what people usually think of when they think of an "Eskimo kiss"—two people rubbing their noses together. Then they shared what they actually do, which is press their nose against someone's cheek.

Watch:


@shinanova

Showing you how we kiss, to show affection @kayuulanova #inuit #indigenous #kunik #eskimokiss

"Usually it's done with a lot of emotion," Shina says. "The more love you have for a person, the stronger you do it."

The demonstration is adorable, with their giggles and obvious affection for one another. And people in the comments greatly appreciated the cultural lesson. How many of us ever even questioned what we'd been taught or even wondered where our impressions came from?

Many commenters from Southeast Asia—Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and more—shared that their family members also express close affection in this way.

Shina and Kayuula are Inuit throat singers as well, which is a unique and fascinating art form. Take a listen:

@shinanova

Katajjaq, throat singing @kayuulanova #katajjaq #inuit #throatsinger

Traditional Inuit throat singing involves two people, usually women, standing face to face. Each makes sounds using their throat, belly and diaphragm, matching each other's rhythm until one of them stops or giggles. Evie Mark, a throat singer and professor at Nunavik Sivunitsavut, told the BBC, "It's a very intimate thing so for sure you're going to be triggered to smile or laugh, especially when you start seeing the person's eyes when you're singing together."

Shina's mother has her own TikTok channel as well, where she shares more about being an Inuit woman. (Sometimes you'll see the word Inuk instead of Inuit—Inuk is singular, Inuit is plural and also used as an adjective.)

We can all benefit from learning about cultures outside of our own, and social media makes it easier than ever to expose ourselves to people from all different backgrounds. Thankfully, some people use their channels for the specific purpose of sharing—free education everyone can benefit from.

Thank you, Novalingas, for sharing your gifts and culture with us all.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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