Billboard

21 years of Televisón Serrana

On January 15th, Television Serrana (“Television of the mountains”) celebrated its 21st year of operation, from the highest mountain system in Cuba. Founded in 1993 by journalist and documentary filmmaker Daniel Ten Castrillo, and supported by the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), this community project seeks to reflect and defend the identity, human values and culture of the inhabitants of the Sierra Maestra mountain range. 

As a not-for-profit organization that seeks to promote the knowledge and use of audiovisual media for social, educational and cultural advancement, Television Serrana joined the Latin American Coordination of Film and Communication Indigenous Peoples (CLACPI) in late 90s, thanks to a partnership with the Center for Training and Filmmaking of Bolivia, CEFREC.

Commitment to the people of Sierra Maestra and their distinct identity, experiences, needs, customs, philosophy and worldview, as well as the ambition to produce solid and aesthetic documentaries that reveal a collective imagery, have always been the fundamental pillars of Television Serrana, as part of their aim to create a community initiative promoting popular participation in media and allowing the Serrano people to not only be spectators but complicit participants in the medium.

In a recent interview, Daniel Ten summed up the organization’s work: "Perhaps the one who helped us the most to understand how to make Serrana TV was Martí […] Martí talks about the need to bring passion and advocates for education into the mountains and remote areas to work at enabling the link between education and culture." 

This work is perfectly in synch with the aspirations of the indigenous producers at CLACPI, who join in celebrating a new year for Television Serrana.

By Gabriela Gamez

www.claclpi.org

 

DID in the National News!

Celebrated son of Igloolik creates cultural Internet for his people

BY ROBERT EVERETT-GREEN

The Globe and Mail

The current, community-curated Arviat playlist includes videos of last summer’s Rockin’ Walrus Arts Festival in Igloolik; the recent Kunuk documentary Inuit Cree Reconciliation; and Madeline Ivalu’s 2007 film Umiaq, about a group of elders who decide to build a traditional sealskin-covered boat. The playlists change, but the content is overwhelmingly about Northern lifestyle and language – two things that the resource rush stands to change drastically.

“We’re experimenting with how you can cross not just a digital divide, but a divide in perception and world view,” Cohn says. “To have the [resource] debate all in the extraction language, rather that in the land language, already makes it a lopsided debate. You have very limited ways in which local opinions can be expressed. [DID] can completely change the rules of the participation game, the way the Berger Inquiry did in the Northwest Territories 40 years ago, when it levelled the playing field between indigenous communities and the Alaska pipeline.” It’s not enough, he says, to write information pamphlets in Inuktitut syllabics, which were invented by missionaries as a way to teach the Bible and aren’t widely understood among people under 60.

It can be tricky to set up a DID channel in a small place that you can’t reach by road and that is seldom visited by cable technicians who may be based in Winnipeg. A media player was installed in a public library in an Arctic Bay school last summer, for example, but in October the library abruptly moved to a different location, and there was no one around who could move the service, which will probably stay down until spring. “When it’s minus 40, you may not want one of your guys climbing a pole to attach a cable,” says Stéphane Rituit, a producer at Isuma TV’s Montreal office.

In Arviat, the connection was delayed while Isuma worked out the contractual details with cable provider Arctic Co-ops, which balked at the idea of letting local people (“third parties,” in contract language) upload their own content directly to the system.

“My biggest frustration was to ask Arviat to slow down,” says Rituit. “You get people totally enthusiastic. They say, ‘Hey, let’s do it, go live on air, play music,’ and then you have to call them and say, ‘I’m sorry, guys, actually we can’t do that,’ ” – because it wasn’t in the cable contract. More recently, uploads in Arviat have been stalled by a technical glitch that Rituit is trying to sort out from Montreal via Skype.

Digital Indigenous Democracy got started after Kunuk made a formal intervention at the 2012 hearings into the proposed Baffinland iron mine at Mary River, at which he presented 71 Isuma call-in radio shows and video interviews about the proposal. He argued that this kind of multimedia conversation was key to the legal obligation to inform and consult with indigenous people. Isuma did live audio broadcasts of the hearings in Igloolik and Pond Inlet, allowing anyone to listen to proceedings that are usually restricted to bureaucrats and industry reps. The licence for the Baffinland mine ultimately included conditions mandating multimedia consultation throughout the project. (Isuma will broadcast a second round of Baffinland hearings from Jan. 27 to 31, with evening talk shows about each day’s proceedings hosted by Kunuk.)

That summer, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association asked Isuma to set up community channels in Cambridge Bay and Taloyoak, where mining activity is heating up. Julia Ogina, KIA programs co-ordinator, says four or five filmmakers in Cambridge Bay have been trained to make broadcast-ready content with community-owned equipment. “It started with the idea of getting our languages and culture more into the home,” she says, referring both to Inuktitut and to Inuinnaqtun, a dialect spoken around Taloyoak.

She knows people are watching, because the moment something goes wrong with the feed, the station’s Facebook page fills up with complaints. The current playlist in Cambridge Bay includes a show about walrus hunting in the Baffinland mine area and Picture of Light, Peter Mettler’s 1994 documentary about the northern lights.

Cohn says DID is inexpensive and scalable, and could extend into any number of indigenous communities here and abroad, if money and volunteers are available. One source of future funding could be the resource companies themselves. “One million dollars doesn’t go very far if you’re thinking about 10 communities, or all 26 Nunavut communities, or all the Northern communities that could or should be wired into this network,” he says. “But we’ve been counting out the pennies and wondering if we can meet next week’s payroll, for the last 25 years.”

The current, community-curated Arviat playlist includes videos of last summer’s Rockin’ Walrus Arts Festival in Igloolik; the recent Kunuk documentary Inuit Cree Reconciliation; and Madeline Ivalu’s 2007 film Umiaq, about a group of elders who decide to build a traditional sealskin-covered boat. The playlists change, but the content is overwhelmingly about Northern lifestyle and language – two things that the resource rush stands to change drastically.

“We’re experimenting with how you can cross not just a digital divide, but a divide in perception and world view,” Cohn says. “To have the [resource] debate all in the extraction language, rather that in the land language, already makes it a lopsided debate. You have very limited ways in which local opinions can be expressed. [DID] can completely change the rules of the participation game, the way the Berger Inquiry did in the Northwest Territories 40 years ago, when it levelled the playing field between indigenous communities and the Alaska pipeline.” It’s not enough, he says, to write information pamphlets in Inuktitut syllabics, which were invented by missionaries as a way to teach the Bible and aren’t widely understood among people under 60.

It can be tricky to set up a DID channel in a small place that you can’t reach by road and that is seldom visited by cable technicians who may be based in Winnipeg. A media player was installed in a public library in an Arctic Bay school last summer, for example, but in October the library abruptly moved to a different location, and there was no one around who could move the service, which will probably stay down until spring. “When it’s minus 40, you may not want one of your guys climbing a pole to attach a cable,” says Stéphane Rituit, a producer at Isuma TV’s Montreal office.

In Arviat, the connection was delayed while Isuma worked out the contractual details with cable provider Arctic Co-ops, which balked at the idea of letting local people (“third parties,” in contract language) upload their own content directly to the system.

“My biggest frustration was to ask Arviat to slow down,” says Rituit. “You get people totally enthusiastic. They say, ‘Hey, let’s do it, go live on air, play music,’ and then you have to call them and say, ‘I’m sorry, guys, actually we can’t do that,’ ” – because it wasn’t in the cable contract. More recently, uploads in Arviat have been stalled by a technical glitch that Rituit is trying to sort out from Montreal via Skype.

Digital Indigenous Democracy got started after Kunuk made a formal intervention at the 2012 hearings into the proposed Baffinland iron mine at Mary River, at which he presented 71 Isuma call-in radio shows and video interviews about the proposal. He argued that this kind of multimedia conversation was key to the legal obligation to inform and consult with indigenous people. Isuma did live audio broadcasts of the hearings in Igloolik and Pond Inlet, allowing anyone to listen to proceedings that are usually restricted to bureaucrats and industry reps. The licence for the Baffinland mine ultimately included conditions mandating multimedia consultation throughout the project. (Isuma will broadcast a second round of Baffinland hearings from Jan. 27 to 31, with evening talk shows about each day’s proceedings hosted by Kunuk.)

That summer, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association asked Isuma to set up community channels in Cambridge Bay and Taloyoak, where mining activity is heating up. Julia Ogina, KIA programs co-ordinator, says four or five filmmakers in Cambridge Bay have been trained to make broadcast-ready content with community-owned equipment. “It started with the idea of getting our languages and culture more into the home,” she says, referring both to Inuktitut and to Inuinnaqtun, a dialect spoken around Taloyoak.

She knows people are watching, because the moment something goes wrong with the feed, the station’s Facebook page fills up with complaints. The current playlist in Cambridge Bay includes a show about walrus hunting in the Baffinland mine area and Picture of Light, Peter Mettler’s 1994 documentary about the northern lights.

Cohn says DID is inexpensive and scalable, and could extend into any number of indigenous communities here and abroad, if money and volunteers are available. One source of future funding could be the resource companies themselves. “One million dollars doesn’t go very far if you’re thinking about 10 communities, or all 26 Nunavut communities, or all the Northern communities that could or should be wired into this network,” he says. “But we’ve been counting out the pennies and wondering if we can meet next week’s payroll, for the last 25 years.”

 

www.theglobeandmail.com

 

Iqaluit councillors wrestle with public works capacity

Mining projects may lure trained staff away from city, director warns

BY PETER VARGA

Iqaluit’s director of public works says the city should brace itself for the start of the Mary River iron project in north Baffin, because it could draw qualified public works staff away from the city.

Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s long-awaited iron mining projectat Mary River in north Baffin awaits final approval this year.

Public works director Keith Couture told city council Jan. 10, during discussions on the city’s 2014 budget, that if Baffinland offers better benefits, public works staff, especially heavy equipment operators, could be drained away.

City councillors at the meeting said they’re concerned about possible staff shortages in the public works department, and asked Couture if more money should be budgeted for additional staff for road maintenance and repairs.

“What we need is not just staff — we need trained staff, which is a different thing. We’re trying to upgrade our operators,” Couture told council. “I’m trying to get a bigger pool of trained people.”

The director pointed to other difficulties his department faces, related to shift work and the narrow window of opportunity to in the summer for repair work, which amounts to just two months.

“You’ve got to get trained staff. You’ve got to get staff that know the city,” said Couture, who took the job in mid-2012. He came to Iqaluit with more than 30 years’ experience with municipalities in Ontario, mostly in the north of the province.

“It’s taken me a year or more to finally know where the roads are, with the numbering system and all that,” said Couture. “And the drivers have to know that too. Its an education, from both perspectives, from management and the fact that we’ve got to get people and offer them the opportunity to advance here with the city.”

Mayor John Graham and Coun. Kenny Bell said the department’s priority should be the upkeep and improvement of the city’s roads.

“Our roads are in major disrepair, and we need to at least start correcting that. And [added] staff will help with that,” Bell said.

Bell described poor staffing of road crews as “a massive failure by this council — and it has been for 40 years.”

Couture highlighted that, in addition to a staff training program in the works with the city’s training director, he is drafting a public works plan tailored specifically for Iqaluit, which will give clear guidelines on maintenance of roads, signage, snow removal, and staff hiring.

“The plan is my vision of what the city needs, and I’m trying to put it into play,” he said. “If it’s not written down, nobody wants to do it.

“I want it so that if I ever leave, here’s the book. Here’s the way it should be done,” Couture said. “It’s going to be cut and dried. We will still have to make decisions, but the majority of what we do will be written as policy.”

The director said his goal is to have a complete set of guidelines ready for the city “within a year.”

Coun. Simon Nattaq agreed on the importance of guidelines unique to the city, noting that Iqaluit’s roads are built on soils not found in other parts of Nunavut.

www.nunatsiaqonline.ca

Public hearings start again this week for scaled down Mary River proposal

Nunavut Planning Commission looking at Baffinland's new transportation corridor

By Lisa Gregoire

 

The Nunavut Planning Commission will hold public hearings this week in Clyde River, Grise Fiord, Resolute, Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet to allow members of the public to share their views and concerns about Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s scaled-down iron mine proposal in north Baffin.

 

“Feedback received during the Public Review will be used to assist the NPC to determine whether the [early revenue phase of Mary River] meets the information requirements of Appendices J and K of the North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan, and whether to recommend an amendment to the land use plan,” the NPC said on its website.

 

After years of hearings, technical meetings, public input and thousands of pages of material describing the scope of the Mary River iron mine south of Pond Inlet and its potential impacts on the land, water, animals and people, the proponent, Baffinland, finally got a project certificate to go ahead with the mine in December 2012.

 

Weeks later, Baffinland announced that because of slumping steel prices, they would be scaling back their proposal to a phased-in approach that would involve temporarily postponing construction of the railway to Steensby Inlet and the year-round port there.

 

Instead, they would ship only 3.5 million tonnes of ore a year out of Milne Inlet, as opposed to 18 million tonnes, and only between July and October.

 

This is referred to as Baffinland’s Early Revenue Phase (ERP) and includes, according to NPC documents, “upgrades to the Milne Inlet Tote Road, new permanent project facilities at Milne Inlet and increased truck traffic and shipping traffic transporting iron ore from Mary River Mine Site to markets overseas.”

 

The potential for greater, or at least different, impacts in those areas, prompted a new round of public consultations. For the NPC’s part, it must examine whether the revised transportation corridor complies with the North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan. After that, the NIRB must consider, again, the wider potential impacts on the marine, land and social environment.

 

The land use hearings this week were supposed to be handled jointly by the NPC and the Nunavut Impact Review Board but instead, these hearings will be chaired by the NPC alone.

 

In a series of letters between the NIRB and the NPC in late November 2013, the NIRB expressed its intention to pull out of the hearings because the board felt it had not been properly consulted on the format, procedures and rules of the hearings.

 

For one, the NIRB preferred “information sessions” rather than full blown hearings, and the board also felt there had not been enough public notice of the hearings given to “community organizations in the North Baffin, to the Government of Nunavut, or to the general public.”

 

While acknowledging these omissions, “may have been the result of inadvertence, it does not change the fact that this complete lack of communication has significantly limited the Board’s ability to participate in a meaningful way in the collaborative conduct of the joint review,” wrote Ryan Barry, the NIRB’s executive director, in a Nov. 22 letter to the NPC.

Despite these “regrettable developments,” the NIRB remains committed to a joint review of the transportation corridor application associated with Baffinland’s ERP proposal, the letter concludes, and it will continue soliciting public input and sharing information with the NPC.

 

When contacted by Nunatsiaq News, Barry downplayed the dispute.

 

“The NPC and NIRB have different rules of procedure which they must follow when fulfilling their respective responsibilities and this led to the NIRB being unable to participate directly in the NPC’s scheduled hearings,” Barry wrote in an email.

 

“However in no way do we feel this would hamper the NPC’s success in facilitating these sessions or the timeliness of either the NPC-NIRB joint review of the transportation corridor application or the NIRB assessment of the full early revenue phase proposal.”

 

In an email to Nunatsiaq News Jan. 7, Sharon Ehaloak, executive director of the NPC, said the NIRB’s absence from the hearings this week will have no bearing on the quality or outcome of the consultation.

 

“Furthermore,” she wrote, “the NIRB remains a partner to the wider [North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan] public review; they don’t need to be at the hearing for the NPC to access the information the NIRB has gathered in its review process.”

 

However, she is more pointed in a Nov. 24 letter to Barry. In that letter, Ehaloak defends the NPC’s actions saying it was the commission’s job to take the lead in the process and so it applied its own criteria as a result.

 

She told Barry public hearings are necessary because the “information sessions” that the NIRB had previously conducted for the railway, “merely informed the public that the NPC and the NIRB were reviewing the amendment application,” and thus didn’t allow Inuit and other members of the public to “meaningfully participate” in the process.

 

“The NPC is of the view that greater public involvement in the review of the ERP is necessary to satisfy the NPC’s express and implied obligations in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to act in the public interest,” Ehaloak wrote in the letter.

 

The low-level tiff between the two organizations highlights the continuing convoluted nature of development in Nunavut which requires complex approvals from a variety of boards that have specific jurisdictional responsibilities under the land claim.

 

For years, the Nunavut Government, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Government of Canada have tried to streamline the process.

 

In June 2013, the federal Northern Jobs and Growth Act received royal assent and included within it, the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which is meant to make the review process “more efficient and predictable.”

The problem is, the NIRB and NPC say they don’t have enough money and capacity to achieve the federal government’s goals.

 

In January 2013, NIRB and NPC representatives told a House of Commons committee that they were already stretched to the breaking point with current responsibilities to take on new tasks involving, among other things, translation and access to information obligations.

 

Those wishing to attend the public hearings this week in north Baffin can find a schedule of times and places here.

While the NPC encouraged participants to give prior notice if they wanted to speak and submit their written comments in advance, time has been set aside on each day’s agenda for oral comments from the public. The NPC’s rules of procedure for the hearings can be found here.

 

www.nunatsiaqonline.ca

 

Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline approved by energy board

The benefits of the Northern Gateway pipeline to bring Alberta crude to the West Coast outweigh its shortcomings and it should be allowed to proceed, a federal review panel says.

The much-anticipated report was released from National Energy Board headquarters in Calgary Thursday afternoon, 10 years after the $6.5-billion project was proposed and after more than a year of public hearings throughout B.C. and Alberta.

The final decision, however, rests with the federal government, which has 180 days to decide.

In April, the panel released a list of 199 potential conditions that the proponent, Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., might need to meet should the project be approved — the report contains 209 conditions.

Enbridge has scheduled a conference call response at 4:30 p.m. Mountain time Thursday.

The 1,170-kilometre project would deliver 525,000 barrels of petroleum a day from the Edmonton area in a 36-inch pipeline through northern B.C. to a tanker terminal in Kitimat, on the West Coast.

A 20-inch pipeline would move 193,000 barrels of condensate, a light petroleum liquid, per day east back to its starting point to be used to thin heavy oil for transport.

The project is a lightning rod in the debate over global climate change and raised concerns about the possibility of an oil spill on land or off the coast of B.C.

The British Columbia government told the panel it did not support the pipeline as it was proposed and more than 130 aboriginal bands signed a declaration against the project.

Enbridge has promised double-hulled modern oil tankers and 20 per cent thicker steel than required, on average, on the pipeline. It has agreed to set aside $1 billion to cover potential accidents.

The pipeline would allow Canadian oil producers to reach the emerging markets of Asia and free them from their sole major export market in the United States. Northern Gateway's volumes are effectively fully spoken for by Alberta producers under long-term contracts.

In a report Thursday morning, Scotiabank commodity expert Patricia Mohr said export oil pipelines are vital to Canada's future economic health.

"While probably not in place until 2018, the pipeline would help to narrow recently wide 'light' as well as 'heavy oil' price discounts off WTI (New York-traded West Texas Intermediate), which have been so costly for the Canadian economy," she pointed out.

The Kitimat terminal would have two ship berths and storage for three condensate tanks and 11 petroleum tanks. It would also include a radar monitoring station and first response capabilities.

www.vancouversun.com