Summary of Iqaluit consultation event

On October 19 2016, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Melanie Joly and Department of Canadian Heritage Officials conducted a consultation event with members of Nunavut, North West Territories and Yukon cultural communities. The event was held at the Frobisher Inn in conjunction with the All Arts Summit organized by the Government of Nunavut. The Minister and the Department are grateful to the Government of Nunavut and summit staff for organizing the event and facilitating a space within the consultation to engage with northern artists, creators and cultural organi­zations.

Ipsos was not responsible for administrating this consulta­tion event and the information presented in this summary is therefore not reflected in the consultation report. The infor­mation presented is a compendium of notes taken by Department of Canadian Heritage staff who were present during these proceedings.

The thoughts, issues, recommendations and points raised during the Iqaluit event include but were not limited to the following:

  • Consistent and affordable access to stable high speed internet for all northern residents was frequently raised and cited as a barrier to access and engagement with fellow Canadians and the wider world. Certain issues that dominate the policy discourse about access, con­sumption and funding of cultural programs do not res­onate in Iqaluit because they are inherently excluded from the conversation.
  • Videoconferencing between artists and mentors could make Nunavut feel like a smaller place, more connected. Lack of digital access means citizens of the north cannot fully participate in Canadian culture. Without connectiv­ity, youth are falling behind in fast-moving technologies. Nunavut is not competitive or on par as a result of this.
  • Art provides sanity in the North. Need support for con­nectivity not just for the arts but for all facets of society.
  • Social media sites such as Facebook play a key role in connecting northern communities; however, access to the sites is inconsistent due to issues around broad­band connectivity. Facebook has taken on the role of community radio. It is used differently in Nunavut than anywhere else.
  • The primary communications medium used in the North is radio and it is the main way communities communi­cate and interact with one another. However, the infra­structure and capacity of northern radio stations is des­perately in need of modernization.
  • The Northern Native Broadcasting Program needs to be re­viewed and restored after having been decimated. TV Nunavut continues to grow and develop and hopes to become a recipient.
  • They want to make TV Nunavut available on all platforms but this requires much greater internet speed/capacity.
  • Similar to Canadian content regulations, there should be requirements for all broadcasters to carry Indigenous language content. Global, CTV, etc. This could contrib­ute to reconciliation in Canada.
  • Investment in technical vocational training such as broadcasting and production as well as digital literacy and coding is required for the region to develop in line with the digital shift.
  • Cultural capital infrastructure is also scarce to non-existent, venues such as performing arts centres that may include training opportunities would be a very valuable resource for northern communities. One idea would be to incorporate these initiatives around radio stations as they are already important and central to the communities.
  • Inuit and Indigenous northern knowledge is primarily oral, passed on through generations; knowledge keep­ers now require their knowledge to be documented or risk losing it through attrition.
  • A northern arts council whose funding decisions and ju­ries are administered by artists is required to help the growth of the arts community.
  • Copyright reform is necessary to help protect/support northern artistic commodities and the artists and cre­ators who live there. However, there are specific chal­lenges around in communities with shared oral culture – who has the 'right' to share these stories?
  • There is a lot of misinformation in libraries, schools and museum about the Inuit experience. Historical names and other facts are incorrect and this has to be fixed, it's a question of respect.
  • If you build it, we will use it (referring to any technological improvement).
  • Arts organizations and governments will need to learn to support art differently in a digital shift.
  • Even with such a large percentage of people involved in art in Nunavut, only a tiny fraction of it is seen. It would be so powerful if people could see it. Need to increase access to northern art from outside of the North.
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