Inuit Sovereignty

Reading to Decolonize presents
Nunavut & Inuit Sovereignty on Screen
Co-facilitated by Rachel Webb Jekanowski and Richard Cassidy
Co-presented by the Atwater Library and the Cole Foundation

Thursday evenings, 6:30-8:30 pm
24 October – 21 November 2019
Location : Cafe Coop – Les Renards
(1239 Rue de Bellechasse)

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On April 1st, 1999, after decades of Inuit political activism and land rights negotiations with the Canadian federal government, Inuit struggles for self-governance through the creation of a new territory became a reality. Nunavut, meaning “Our Land” in Inuktitut, was carved out of the eastern half of the Northwest Territories and would be governed by Inuit for Inuit. The Nunavut Land Claim Agreement Act, passed in 1993, as the federal Nunavut Act, remains the largest Indigenous land-claims settlement in Canadian history.

Earlier drafts of this agreement included, alongside provisions guaranteeing Inuit the right to hunt, fish, and trap, an article requiring the federal government to provide the telecommunications infrastructures that the new government would need to administer this vast, sparsely-populated region. This article, however, was removed from the final agreement and as such Nunavut faces significant challenges connecting its communities and delivering public services using only very limited means.

This session will focus therefore on the way Indigenous sovereignty is linked to and dependant on access to the means—Internet, digital media, cinema—to govern and voice local experiences, language, and culture. We will address the landmark Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and Nunavut Act, the establishment of Inuit-owned media production companies, and the legacy of southern, settler imaginaries about the North on historical and contemporary Canadian-Inuit relations.

This session expands the practice of collaborative reading that is common to the Reading to Decolonize project by engaging with film as historical document, as a practice of political and artistic expression, and as a communications technology. Each week will be centered around a film screening; some weeks will also include short supplementary readings (20 pages or less), including government reports, legal texts, or personal narratives. Participants will be asked to come prepared to engage with the readings and in-session screenings, to facilitate productive and focused discussions.

Registration is required and will be capped at 25 participants. Participation fees (on a sliding scale between 25- 50$) will help pay for visiting speakers, licensing fees, and room rental fees. Childcare services may be available upon request. All are welcome. No one will be turned away.

Reading to Decolonize is a public education project about the history and ongoing present of settler colonialism in Canada. We support Indigenous sovereignty through the decolonization of the land, the law, our learning, and our relations.

Session Syllabus
Week 1: Introduction
Natsik Hunting (dir. Mosha Michael, 1975), 7 mins.
Hudson’s Bay Company Centenary Celebrations, reels 1 & 2 (1919), 26 mins.

Week 2: Deconstructing Southern Imaginaries of North
Arctic Defenders (dir. John Walker with Unikkaat Studios, 2014), 95 mins.
Sherrill Grace, “Ideas of North,” Canada and the Idea of North (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2007), 3-17.

Week 3: Nunavut Land Claim Agreement (1993)
No Screening this week

Selections to be determined from “Nunavut Land Claim Agreement
In Conversation: Mayor Madeleine Redfern,” Northern Public Affairs (October 2018), 15-19.

Week 4: Media Production and Inuit Self-Determination
My Father’s Land (dir. Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, Isuma, 2014).
Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, “The more connected we become,” Northern Public Affairs (October 2018), 21-32.

Week 5: Guest Speaker – A Conversation with Pitseolak Pfeifer
No Screening
: “From the Credibility Gap to Capacity Building: An Inuit Critique of Canadian Arctic Research,” Northern Public Affairs (July 2018), 29-34.