Guest Speaker – Pitseolak Pfeifer (Inuit Solutions)

Pitseolak Pfeifer (Inuit Solutions)

“Inuit Self-Determination & Media: A Decolonizing Exercise through the Lens of an Inuk”

Strathearn Center, 3680 Jeanne-Mance
November 21th at 7pm (doors at 6:30)
to be followed by questions (till 8:30).
Cash bar service is available.

The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993 and the creation of the Nunavut Territory in 1999 were landmarks aimed at paving the way for Inuit self-determination. With this opportunity came targeted investments within the Territory by different public and private sector actors.

More than two decades later, are these targeted investments yielding meaningful self-determination for Inuit? Or are they merely perpetuating an economic and cultural dependency model that fits the Canadian national identity ethos and meets the needs of various private actors in the North? If so, what are the issues and how are the new generation of Inuit reclaiming their voices, identity, and self-determination? What challenges and opportunities lie ahead and where can we find the answers?

Join Pitseolak Pfeifer as he unpacks some of the unresolved historical and contemporary tensions, while engaging audiences in a conversation on what the new self-determination might be requiring of future investments.

Pitseolak Pfeifer is owner of Inuit Solutions, which provides consulting services to projects that advance Inuit community development and self-determination. Pitseolak holds a Master’s degree in Northern Studies and an Honours degree in Canadian Studies Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He is a published scholar and is often invited to guest lecture and facilitate conversations with Canadians to strengthen various communities of practice in relation to Indigenous peoples, in particular Inuit.


In preparation for this week’s concluding lecture, participants may like to read Pitseolak’s article, “From the Credibility Gap to Capacity Building: An Inuit Critique of Canadian Arctic Research,” Northern Public Affairs (July 2018), 29-34, about which you may like to prepare some questions.

You might also like to read this article from CBC Unreserved about the number of stereotypes that continue to circulate about Inuit in journalism today. It describes also the really helpful Bingo card of such stereotypes produced by the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA).


Finally, following up on last week’s conversations, Rachel, as promised, put together a few thoughts about IsumaTV’s Digital Indigenous Democracy project and the Baffinland, Mary River Mine.

According to IsumaTV’s website, Digital Indigenous Democracy (DID) is a network of Isuma Distribution, in partnership with a number of different organizations including Nunavut Independent Television Network (NITV); Nunavut Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth; and the Municipality of Igloolik. DID is led by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn of Isuma and NITV, as well as Lloyd Lipsett, a Human Rights Assessor. Both Lipsett and Kunuk feature prominently in the footage of the hearings in My Father’s Land.

From IsumaTV: “Digital Indigenous Democracy was originally created and launched in 2012 when Inuit in the Qikqtani Region of Nunavut (Canada) had the opportunity to take part in an official environmental review process for the proposed $6 billion Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation Mary River Project on North Baffin Island.

DID also carried out a multimedia Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA), undertaken in partnership with a Human Rights lawyer [Lloyd Lipsett], to examine the positive and negative impacts of the proposed mine in accordance to international human rights standards.

DID uses the Internet, community radio, local television and social media to empower Inuit traditional knowledge and to create new tools and networks to help voice individual and collective views.”

Additional video testimonies from the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s public hearings in July 2012, recorded as part of the Digital Indigenous Democracy project, are available online through IsumaTV.

For those of us interested in learning more about the Mary River Project and Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) hearings, Rachel recommends reading this article on Digital Indigenous Democracy, written Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk in Northern Public Affairs. Here’s an excerpt:

“Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation’s (BIM) Mary River project is a $6 billion open-pit extraction of extremely high- grade iron ore that, if fully exploited, could continue for 100 years. The mining site, in the centre of North Baffin Island about halfway between the Inuit communities of Pond Inlet and Igloolik, requires a 150 km railroad built across frozen tundra to transport ore to a deep-water port where the world’s largest supertankers will carry it to European and Asian markets. Operating the past several years under a temporary exploratory permit, BIM filed its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) with the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) in February 2012. Under considerable pressure from BIM and the Government of Canada to expedite a “timely review”, NIRB has scheduled public hearings on the FEIS to begin in July 2012 in Iqaluit, Igloolik, and Pond Inlet, with a final decision on the Project in 2013.”