Arviat filmmaker honoured for addressing bullying, social issues

Ethan Tassiuk awarded Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in Rideau Hall ceremony

Filmmaker Ethan Dustin Kablutsiak Tassiuk (left) receives the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from Gov. Gen. Mary Simon at Rideau Hall on Thursday. Tassiuk, of Arviat, was honoured for his film work combatting social issues like bullying and promoting sexual health in his community. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt)

By Madalyn Howitt

A young Nunavut filmmaker has been honoured with a Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

Ethan Dustin Kablutsiak Tassiuk, 23, of Arviat, was one of 24 Canadians recognized Thursday for their exceptional volunteer achievements across the country. Gov. Gen. Mary Simon presented the medals in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Tassiuk was recognized for his work using film and television to combat systemic social concerns in his community.

“I was kind of nervous at first but I just shook it off, and now I just feel honoured,” he said, of receiving the award from Simon.

Tassiuk began making films when he was 12 years old after joining the Arviat Film Society, a youth-driven and educational community access television station run by local students and volunteers.

He went on to create anti-bullying videos, a film promoting sexual health awareness, and other productions that advocated for youth resilience and community engagement.

Reflecting on his favourite filmmaking moments, Tassiuk said what stands out most are the lessons he learned from his mentors at the Arviat Film Society. His advice for young filmmakers in the North is to stay resilient when pursuing their craft.

“Always have patience and always try your best, no matter how hard it is. Try your best,” he said.

In her speech, Simon said “volunteers are the backbone of communities across this country, providing support that may not otherwise exist. All of you being honoured today met challenges head-on, addressing the greatest needs in your communities by giving of your time and expertise. You have made a difference with your outstanding devotion, dedication and commitment.

“You have done good in your communities. You continue to do good. You shape our society through your actions and stories, helping others because it’s the right thing to do.”

The Sovereign’s Medal ceremony comes ahead of National Volunteer Week, set to begin April 24.

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