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NFB unveiling learning resource at Inuit Studies conference


Since its inception in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada has been tasked with exploring all aspects of Canadian culture through its films.

Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson, said the Unikkausivut project will help broaden the understanding of the Inuit throughout the country.

As part of that, the NFB has collected over 100 films on the Inuit, the largest such collection in the world.

Now, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Nunatsiavut Land Claims Agreement and to coincide with the 20th Annual Inuit Studies conference in St. John’s from October 7 to 10, the NFB is releasing a box set of over eight hours of films highlighting Inuit culture. It will be unveiled at the katingavik inuit arts festival, the cultural component of the Inuit Studies Conference.

An earlier edition of the box set, titled Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories, was released in 2011 but this expanded edition includes six films from the Nunatsiavut region and in the local Inuktitut dialect. The box set is available in English, French and four dialects of Inuktitut. The goal is to make it accessible not just to the people of the north but to all of Canada.

Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson, said this project has been a passion of his for years and he is happy to see it showcased in this way.

“It’s a major undertaking to make sure that our films, those unique pieces of culture, are accessible to the Inuit people but also to the rest of Canada,” he told TC Media. “That is something that is very important to us, that the balance of the country understands the reality of the Inuit and the regions where they live.”

The box set will be part of a learning resource, with each film having an accompanying learning guide available in the six languages and dialects. The guides will features lessons and activities that provide a more in-depth and critical analysis of Inuit culture and life in the Arctic.

The Nunatsiavut Government will have access to this body of works on its territory in institutions, organizations, schools, museums, community centres and libraries as well as a perpetual license to stream these films on these schools’ websites or on the Education Department’s designated website for non-profit education purposes. It will also be made available to cultural centres, schools and various institutions in southern Canada. Joli-Coeur said it is important to the NFB that the Inuit get opportunities to see these films, as well as the rest of the country, and this project will further that.

“The average Canadian knows that there are people in the north but they don’t know the importance of the culture, the importance of each community,” he said. “What they can bring to us, their way of thinking, their way of knowing the territory, all those traditions that are part of the fabric of the country.”

He said they hope to broaden understanding of the Inuit through these films, which are part of Canada’s history that rarely is told.

The learning resource will be unveiled on October 8 at 10:45 a.m. at INCO Innovation Hall in St. John’s.  NFB educational advisor Sophie Quevillon and Nunavik filmmaker Isabella-Rose Weetaluktuk will be there for the opening to discuss the NFB’s tradition of working with Inuit artists and show how Unikkausivut can immerse learners in the rich culture and traditions of Inuit peoples.

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