Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic August 03, 2012 - 6:35 am

New Inuit youth video shows the downside of smoking

“If you notice we’re not telling you don’t smoke cigarettes"

Members of NIYC’s “Don’t Be a Slave” film crew brainstorm ideas of how to show how smoking can affect Inuit youth. (PHOTO COURTESY ITK)
Members of NIYC’s “Don’t Be a Slave” film crew brainstorm ideas of how to show how smoking can affect Inuit youth. (PHOTO COURTESY ITK)

A young man with no gas to fuel up his snowmobile, who wants to go para-skiing, but is too out of breath and can’t afford to buy a can of Klik: these are some examples listed in the National Inuit Youth Council’s new anti-smoking video, “Don’t Be a Slave.”

“Can’t breathe? You gonna let smoking slow you down?” the video asks, featuring a character called “Smoke Face” cigarette —  a smirking face that creeps into the frame every now and then.

“If you notice we’re not telling you don’t smoke cigarettes,” said the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami youth coordinator, Kathleen Merritt.

Instead, the video asks youth if they really want to inhale tar or some of the same chemicals used in gasoline.

The video’s message is to get people to think about how smoking affects their health and finances, said Merritt, who serves as the liaison to NIYC, an organization representing Inuit youth from Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador, Nunavut, Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories.

“Everything with that video was done with Inuit youth,” said Merritt, adding that a group of youth came to Iqaluit in last March from every Inuit region to work on the video.

The crew included Boas Mitsuk of Hopedale in northern Labrador and Kristen Dick of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, as well as Robert Hunter and George Salerina of Gjoa Haven.

Nunavut filmmakers Becky Kilabuk and Anguti Johnston were asked to help on the project because of the success of their popular short film, “Feel the Inukness.”

After a half day of brainstorming, the team got to work.

The crew only had five days together in Iqaluit, so they had to come up with ideas quickly — and often on-the-spot. 

For example, after filming a scene in Iqaluit’s Northmart store, the film crew came across a man using his para-kite on the sea ice, and asked him to be a part of the video to show that you can’t always do fun things when you are short of breath.

Many anti-smoking campaigns have already communicated the message that smoking is bad for your health. This video was meant to be different, Merritt said.

However, the video, paid for by ITK and Health Canada, does mention that in 2010 Nunavummiut spent $42 million on cigarettes.

“I love that it’s also humorous,” she said. “We know that it’ll reach many, many Inuit youth.”

Studies show that eight in 10 young people in Nunavut smoke.


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