Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic February 13, 2013 - 8:49 am

APTN can host Aboriginal Day events in AWG: Iqaluit city council

“In 2013 all eyes will be on Iqaluit"

Baker Lake's throat boxer, Nelson Tagoona, shown here last summer in Iqaluit, is among the performers who will take part in APTN's Aboriginal Day broadcast from Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)
Baker Lake's throat boxer, Nelson Tagoona, shown here last summer in Iqaluit, is among the performers who will take part in APTN's Aboriginal Day broadcast from Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)

Iqaluit’s city council has approved a request from the Aboriginal People’s Television Network to rent the Arctic Winter Games arena from June 17 to 23 for their live broadcast of the network’s Aboriginal Day festivities taking place June 21 in Iqaluit,.

During a council meeting Feb. 12, APTN’s Skye Bridges and Lisa Squire explained to councillors what they had in mind for the broadcast, and why the AWG arena is the place to host it. 

The three-and-a-half-hour live broadcast, called Aboriginal Day Live, would bring attention to Iqaluit, Bridges said.

“We thought you know that this is a day created where we should be celebrating the achievements of Aboriginal people, something to invite the rest of Canadians in,” he said.

In the past, the broadcast events have taken place on two stages, in either Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Winnipeg or Regina.

“In 2013 all eyes will be on Iqaluit with the two stages, with one [stage] in Winnipeg at the Forks, and here in Iqaluit, and the broadcast will switch back and forth between both stages,” Bridges said. 

“One of our primary goals though, really is to raise that national awareness of the proud territorial capital of Nunavut, which is the City of Iqaluit,” Squire added.

Students will be ending the school year, and APTN would be packed up and out of the arena by the “first Monday of summer,” Bridges told city councillors.

The network wants the “quality control” of having an indoor venue, and not having to worry about the weather once the stage is set up.

The broadcast would be a free event for the community, and the AWG would fit the greatest number people, Bridges said.

Online video segments will be aired online during the broadcasts.

Some Nunavut artists and performers will also participate in the Winnipeg celebration, which will see audiences of up to 40,000 people.

Another goal of APTN is to provide economic benefit to the community, investing over $1.2 million in the production of the Iqaluit stage.

About 45 per cent of that would be spent in the territory, including investments in local organizations, working with the Alianait arts festival, the Inuit Broadcasting Corp., crew and artists.

There would also be a number of spin-off opportunities. Bridges said.

APTN also wants to connect with Iqaluit youth by providing a leadership outreach program.

“Aboriginal Live will be supplying visiting artists to host these youth workshops, and this is another area where we are working with the Alianait festival to help us produce this,” Squire said.

Aboriginal Day live also includes a national flag contest that’s open to youth between the ages of 12 and 17 across Canada.

A regional winner in Nunavut would be flown to Iqaluit for the Aboriginal Day broadcast.

The preliminary list of artists to perform during the event in Iqaluit includes: Artcirq,  Kuujjuaq rocker Sinuupa, Leela Gilday, Nelson Tagoona and Susan Aglukark.

“This is designed to celebrate and portray the way of life of true music of the North and of the Inuit people,” Bridges said.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson asked how much APTN has explored alternate sites.

“I am firmly against this usage,” he said.

The period before school ends is when many classes are brought to the arena to play soccer as school starts winding down, he said.

The challenge with using other structures is limited space, Bridges said, adding that the back-up plan would be to use a tent about twice the size of the Alianait tent.

Stevenson said that if the city starts allowing the AWG arena to be used for non-recreational purposes, it will be hard to say no to those requests in the future.

“There’s the perception that recreation facilities are not recreational facilities,” he said.

Coun. Simon Nattaq said that schools have their own gyms they can use for playing soccer if the AWG arena is not available.

“We have to have a way to get revenue for recreation,” Nattaq said.

Nattaq said he did not want to be called an unwelcoming person, adding that the APTN Aboriginal Day broadcast would be a chance for people to smile, clap and relax.

“It’s all part of a healing process,” he said. 

Nunavut Tourism paid about $200,000 to bring CTV’s Canada AM show to Iqaluit, and APTN is “even willing to pay rent,” Coun. Dobbin said, while reading a list of reasons for approving the request.

“The pros outweight the cons,” he said.

Coun. Wilman also supported the idea.

“I totally support your idea, [I have] great expectations of hearing Aboriginal people using their Aboriginal languages,” she said.

However, the benefits of using the arena for the event aren’t contingent on the broadcast taking place in the arena, Coun. Stevenson said, adding that music sounds “horrible” in there.

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