Arviat Film Society to launch local television channel
“We’ll just let them tell their story”
ARVIAT — What do you get when you give some cameras and encouragement to a group of enthusiastic youth?
In the case of one Arviat group — a community television station.
One year after the Arviat Film Society had its first broadcast on the local Padlei Co-op channel, the group is working to launch a full-time Inuktitut-language television station in Arviat that will highlight local people and culture.
By the end of the month, viewers in Arviat can switch on channel 19 to watch new and vintage footage taken in and around the community, showing shots from traditional cooking, drum dancing, Canadian Forces arriving in town by snowmobile or an interview with a local basketball player.
Viewers outside of Arviat can also tune in at Isuma TV which hosts the broadcast.
“Our goal is essentially the same, but it’s also evolved because the youth stepped up and took over,” said Eric Anoee Jr., one of the film society’s original members. “A lot of them will be providers of content and we’ll just let them tell their story.”
The film society has come a long way from 2010, when a core group of five started meeting to explore new forms of communication and digital literacy.
Now the society has grown to include about 20 Inuit youth, along with educators and mentors, working together to build their own local media empire from the audio-visual studio at John Arnalujuak high school.
Taking a cue from the recent Nanisiniq project, where youth helped to document history from the community and the Kivalliq region, the film society began doing its own research.
The group’s members have kept busy filming community events, interviewing elders and exploring the modern issues they face. All that video is now in the process of being digitalized so it can go to broadcast in the coming weeks.
But while the film society has attracted attention and viewers from across the territory, its goal is not only education and entertainment.
It wants to build capacity among youth in a community that has few opportunities, Anoee said.
On a Wednesday night this past October, the group learned to blog. Each participant was encouraged to share something about themselves to “broadcast” on their society’s website.
James Issakiark, 19, wrote about polar bears — a popular topic in this Hudson Bay community, where nuisance polar bears are common; others wrote about their future plans. One of the society’s members went around with a digital camera, snapping shots of the group’s members to post on the blog.
Twenty-four year-old Manasie Thompson recently joined the group.
After studying to become a heavy duty equipment mechanic in the south, Thompson returned to Arviat, where he’s been looking for a job ever since.
“Since there’s no work, I’ve got free time,” he said with a smile. “So I figured I could learn some media skills.”
Thompson said he’s learned a lot about editing different kinds of media — at home, he said he uses those skills to mix traditional music and modern beats together in computer graphic form.
“We’re hoping to open their eyes to the possibility of doing these kinds of things as a career,” said Anoee, who works as a media coordinator for the Government of Nunavut’s education department.
“That can be a challenge because they don’t often see these roles in their own community,” he added. “How often do they see a filmmaker?”
Anoee said he hopes the group’s members can start to see those roles in each other, as the society and its work grow.
“We’re hoping eventually they go to film school and become the next Zach Kunuk,” Anoee said.
You can have a look at a sample of the Arviat television playlist here.