Nunavut is getting a new, all Inuktut TV channel.
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,” she said.
“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,” said Arnaquq-Baril.
Focused on cultural and language education, the network will be a place for Inuit filmmakers to show their work. The network will also run content from other production companies, such as the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation.
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 Thursday.
“Television viewing, even for very small children, is considered one of many ways to support literacy development,” the joint news release said. “Currently, there is a lack of Inuktut programming on Nunavut television to balance the daily influence of Western culture and language.”
A content committee will work out what kind of programming viewers want, Arnaquq-Baril said.
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,” she said.
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.