Inuit TV coming to Northern Canada from new Inuktut-language broadcaster

Writer-director Nyla Innuksuk filmed Slash Back, a feature about an alien invasion, in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, in 2019. The new Inuit TV Network wants to show original content from Inuit regions. (Guy Godfrey)
Nunavut is getting a new all-Inuktut TV channel this year.

Inuit TV will have Inuktut programming in dialects from all Inuit regions, including Greenland, said Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, president of the new broadcaster, Inuit TV Network. Inuktut is a term used to encompass all Inuit languages, including Inuktitut.

“Many Inuit homes don’t have computers or good internet access. We saw the need for a conventional broadcaster. We just simply haven’t been getting enough Inuktut content on CBC and APTN.” Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, president of Inuit TV Network

“This educational broadcaster will make it easier to be able to show more Inuktut content in Inuit homes.”

Newly registered with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Inuit TV Network is planning occasional programming for this year and full-time programming in 2021.

“We will be starving for content at first,” Arnaquq-Baril said.

Focused on cultural and language education, the network will be a place for Inuit filmmakers to show their work. It will also run content from other production companies, such as the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation.

Arnaquq-Baril said at a news conference that the channel will air on a conventional television station in Nunavut. It will also have a channel on Isuma.tv, a Nunavut-based website for Indigenous media art.

Announced on Thursday for Nunavut Day, the network is being funded by $2.4 million over the next three years from the Nunavut Tunngavik Foundation — a charity of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the organization that represents Inuit in the territory.

Mainstream shows, Nunavut-made films

The station’s goal is “to strengthen Inuktut, Inuit culture and identity and access to information in Inuktut, the majority language of the territory,” Nunavut Tunngavik said in a news release on Thursday.

“Television viewing, even for very small children, is considered one of many ways to support literacy development. Currently, there is a lack of Inuktut programming on Nunavut television to balance the daily influence of Western culture and language.”Nunavut Tunngavik
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, president of the new Inuit TV Network, said a content committee will determine what kind of programming viewers want. (File photo)

For children, she said, translating mainstream children’s shows like Spider-Man and Dora the Explorer can be a “powerful way to preserve language.”

Elders, who contributed to planning for the station, had their own ideas, too.

“One of the biggest requests we got from elders is that they wanted to see David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” in Inuktitut. They really want to know what he was saying.” Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

A filmmaker herself, Arnaquq-Baril said it can be challenging to find a platform to share Nunavut-made films within the territory.

“We want to support and encourage as much original content in our language as possible.”

She said first-time filmmakers can access funding through organizations such as the Nunavut Film Development Corp.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit artists in their own words, Eye on the Arctic – Videos

Finland: Finnish live stream gives users bird’s eye view of eagle’s nest, Yle News

Iceland: Arctic tourism in the age of Instagram, Eye on the Arctic – Long Format

Norway: Norwegian slow TV to feature Svalbard round the clock for nine days, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Moose migration in northern Sweden makes for “contemplative” slow TV, Radio Sweden

United States: American cartoonist says his new book on Canadian Indigenous history helped decolonize part of himself, CBC News

Beth Brown, CBC News

Beth Brown, CBC News

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