2008 Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium, Tromso, Norway

Complete PDF presentation available to download at the bottom of this page under attached files.
WATCH Zacharias speech at IsumaTV

Inuit Language and Culture Institute

presentation by Dr. Zacharias Kunuk O.C.

- Delivered in Inuktitut -

2008 Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium
Tromso, Norway, 20 October 2008

Inuktitut TV in 1983

  • Paul Apak and I joined Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in 1983 to defend our Inuit language and culture through filmmaking.
  • IBC was allowed a few hours a week of Inuktitut programming on Canadian TV.

Inuktitut TV in 2008

  • 25 years later, after cable, satellite, Youtube and Facebook,  IBC still has only the same few hours a week on Canadian TV.
  • Studies show our Inuit language and culture are in worse shape and more danger than ever before.

Isuma Productions in 1988

  • We created Isuma Productions in 1988 to produce independent Inuktitut-language films for Inuit and a worldwide audience.
  • In 2001 Atanarjuat The Fast Runner won the Camera d’or at the Cannes Film Festival and was shown around the world.  Isuma has made 35 Inuktitut films in 20 years.

IsumaTV in 2008

  • In January 2008 we launched www.isuma.tv. In nine months IsumaTV has 3 million hits.
  • IsumaTV started with 100 films from Isuma, Arnait Video, Artcirq and other Inuktitut producers. In 2009 IsumaTV uploads IBC’s archive and other Inuktitut videos made since the 1980’s. All films available to view 24/7.

Inuktitut Internet TV Network

  • The internet is the most important media tool of the 21st century to protect and promote Inuit language and culture.
  • Video and TV skills learned since the 1980’s give Inuit the tools in 2008 to build our own Inuktitut Internet TV network.
  • IsumaTV is in place now.

Language Rights Must Be Used

  • Nunavut Land Claim Agreement and Inuktitut Language Protection Act defend Inuit rights to protect language and culture.
  • Rights have to be used to be effective. NLCA and IPLA protection is only effective if Inuit have the media tools to enforce them and carry them out.

Media Tools Put Language to Use

  • Language and Culture rights are communication rights: the right to Inuit expression; the right to be consulted; the right to find out information and share it.
  • Inuit need state-of-the-art technology tools to communicate equally. Use it or Lose it.

What Will IsumaTV do?

  • IsumaTV established Inuit Language and Culture Institute to protect Inuit communication rights using technology and media.
  • ILCI’s mission is to build in 5 years an internet-based Inuit language television network linking circumpolar communities with 21st century information technology.

Internet TV in Every Community

  • With $25 million over 5 years IsumaTV/ILCI installs high-speed broadband internet and public access production studios in every Inuit community.
  • Local studios upload and download Inuktitut programming through IsumaTV. Wireless, cable and low-power transmitters rebroadcast 24/7 to all households in their community.

Who Buys This Service?

  • Governments, Mining Developers and Inuit Land Claim Development Corporations (IDC’s) are REQUIRED to provide communication services under NLCA and ILPA.
  • Service Providers pay ILCI to design and deliver information services they are obligated to provide.


  • Inuit and Development Entities should expect to commit 1%-for-Language, like 1%-for-Art paid for public building all over the world.
  • 1%-for-Language pays IsumaTV to assist Service Providers to achieve compliance with legal obligations to language and culture .

Implement Bill 7 ILPA

  • Bill 7 Inuktitut Language Protection Act REQUIRES Public and Private Sectors to expand and upgrade language services.
  • Government departments and private sector companies need state-of-the-art 2-way communication technology to meet language requirements in all remote communities. 

Enforce NLCA Participation

  • Nunavut Land Claim Agreement REQUIRES ‘active and informed participation’ by Inuit citizens and local communities.
  • Developers and DIO’s need a 2-way state-of-the-art communication network connecting remote communities, to identify and address ‘expressed community preferences’ and ‘cultural priorities.’ Articles 11, 12, 26 NLCA

Communication in ‘Good Faith’

  • In today’s digital age, ‘Good Faith’ implemen-tation of ILPA and NLCA allows citizens equal-access to digital tools to gather information and express their views clearly.
  • In the age of Facebook, Youtube, Google and social networking, Inuit communities must connect at the same speed as their Governments and Mining companies. 

All Partners Work Together

  • IsumaTV brings together Isuma Productions, IBC and other Inuktitut filmmakers able to bring Inuit media expertise into the digital age.
  • IsumaTV’s Internet TV network designs and delivers state-of-the-art communication services among communities, governments, mining companies, DIOs and IDCs.

What Will We See?

  • High-speed Broadband (satellite-to-wireless) installed in every participating community.
  • Hundreds of hours of Inuktitut programs by Isuma, IBC, TNI, KNR and other circumpolar media producers since the 1980’s preserved and available to any viewer 24/7.
  • Live Webcasting of public meetings, Hamlet councils, arts festivals, cultural events, political debates and Inuit participation on the world stage. 
  • Oral Histories, personal testimonies and new videos and music by Inuit youth on any subject uploaded from every community. 
  • Active and informed expression of Inuit priorities and concerns on Impacts and Benefits as required under NLCA IIBA.
  • 2-way communication between Mining Developments and local communities to improve and monitor cultural benefits and reduce adverse socio-economic impacts.

How Soon Can We Start?

  • IsumaTV already is started. 2008-09 seed money of $1 million comes from Isuma, Canadian Heritage and GN’s CLEY.
  • April 1, 2009: IsumaTV capacity includes Isuma and IBC films, live webcasting and 2-way social networking available online. Communities need affordable hi-speed internet to use this capacity fully. 

What Happens Next?

  • 2009-2010 Service Providers contract with IsumaTV to launch Inuit Language and Culture Institute operational by April 2010.
  • In 12 months satellite-to-wireless broadband, public access production studios and local digital cinemas will be installed in every participating community.

Content: 2009-10

  • Live Webcasting capacity uploads live public meetings and events from any community viewed on IsumaTV throughout the internet network. 2-way allows distant participation.
  • Community input and consultation in NLCA development negotiations are filmed and uploaded in every impact community. 
  • Filmmakers in every community are trained and hired as community-based film crews to upload new videos every day. 
  • Local access production studios are open to anyone in any community with something to say, sing, show or share with the 24/7 internet network. Oral History, personal testimony, elders and youth.


  • Local community radio stations are streamed online so people can listen to their home radio station online anywhere . 
  • Workers in distant mining and resource sites communicate with their families back home through webcams, Skype and internet chat. 

2010 and Beyond

  • $5 million per year builds a state-of-the-art information network leading the world in serving remote Indigenous communities.
  • In 5 years, expanding and improving content transforms every TV in every household into a 24/7 Inuktitut language device. People have choice. Use it or Lose it.

Who is Responsible?

  • Canadian Heritage online funding programs were cut by government after April 1, 2009.
  • Inuit Leadership must take responsibility to invest in media technology to preserve and revitalize Inuktitut language and culture. 


Zacharias Kunuk and Peter Irniq speak about Technology and Media as Tools for Change at the Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium in Tromso, Norway on October 20th, 2008. Zacharias was born in 1957in Kapuivik near Igloolik. He is president and co-founder in 1990 of Igloolik Isuma Productions, Canada's first Inuit-owned independent production company. Zacharias won the Camera d'Or at Cannes 2001 for Isuma's first feature, Atanarjuat The Fast Runner. His credits include several short dramas and numerous documentaries featuring Arctic indigenous themes. Kunuk is the winner of the National Arts Award, National Aboriginal Achievement Award and in 2005 he was awarded the Order of Canada.


23 January 2009


Tukisigiarviit: Inuit Language Issues