NEWS: Nunavik November 30, 2017 - 8:00 am

Bell Canada phone book cover provokes scorn in Nunavik

"There are beautiful photos taken of the North and they took that"

JANE GEORGE

Jaaji Okpik of the award-winning Twin Flames singing duo attracted hundreds of reactions online when he recently changed his profile photo on Facebook.

Okpik’s new photo shows an image taken from the cover of the new Bell telephone directory for Nunavik, but it’s a bit different.

That’s because Okpik superimposed his face and that of a friend on the telephone directory’s photo, which shows two non-Inuit who are apparently on a hike.

“As a musician, I feel now that we have a responsibility to bring light to situations, and it was just my way of cracking a smile,” said Okpik, who is originally from Quaqtaq in Nunavik.

Nunavik’s residents are 90 per cent Inuit and, in his opinion, the photo disregards Inuit, Okpik added.

“There are beautiful photos taken of the North and they took that,” he said.

The Yellow Pages, which publishes the telephone directory, said that it was “never Yellow Pages’ intention to misrepresent the region or its people.”

The directory is published in Inuktitut and English, with government listings in French.

Yellow Pages’ spokesperson Joëlle Langevin said the overall theme of the Canadian directory pages this year was to illustrate landscapes, wildlife or activities that can be done in the various municipalities or regions by residents and visitors—“the latter being the theme of Nunavik.”

“In this case, the directory cover refers to outdoor hiking and climbing that the region is known for, considering its richness in national parks, rivers and mountains,” Langevin said in a statement Thursday.

But that point was lost on Okpik and others in Nunavik.

For the woman pictured on the cover, Okpik substituted a photo of his friend Charlie Taqqik, who is the brother of singer and songwriter Elisapie Isaac and also a musician.

Okpik has since taken Taqqik out of the altered photo, which now features only a smiling Okpik and an unidentified woman in the background.

But Okpik asks why the person who designed the original directory cover “couldn’t get a plane ticket to snap a photo of Nunavik.”

For all the money Nunavik residents pay for telephone service, the company should have been able to pay for a better photo, he said.

Okpik is not alone in his criticism of the photo, which one commenter on social media said was the “saddest and ugly” photo he’d seen, while another said it was “terrible.”

Nelly Duvicq‏ of Ivujivik said her husband Thomassie Mangiok came back from the post office with the new directory “confused, with this in his hands.”

“The cover is confusing,” Mangiok later told Nunatsiaq News. “Bell took the effort for making the text in Inuttitut but didn’t spend a few minutes to find a nice photo from an Inuit region.

“I wonder how it reflects the mentality of southern providers, we are given perceived ‘good enough”’ services and products from foreign organizations, I said foreign because anything outside Inuit regions is foreign in terms of cultures and lifestyle.”

In the past, the Nunavik telephone directory covers have been informative in nature, such as how to reach Canada411—although that focus has changed recently and last year’s Nunavik directory cover showed landscape which some say looked more like the Laurentians, not Nunavik.

In Nunavut, Northwestel runs an annual contest where artists can submit designs for the covers of its directories.

As for Yellow Pages’ position, Langevin said the company understands “the importance of representing the Nunavik region appropriately and our team is working on updating the online version of the directory accordingly.”

“We will make sure to consider this in future choices of images for the print directory,” she said.