From Northbeat to The National: Arviat’s Juanita Taylor takes national stage

CBC journalist makes history as first Inuk guest host of CBC’s flagship news program The National

Juanita Taylor, originally from Arviat, wears a sealskin vest sewn by her daughter as she makes history being the first Inuk journalist to guest-host CBC’s The National this week. (Photo by Phil Williams, courtesy of CBC)

By Madalyn Howitt

CBC reporter Juanita Taylor has always had a passion for journalism.

“My mom tells me that at the age of five I was watching the news,” Taylor laughed, speaking by phone from Toronto.

That passion has taken her all the way from her hometown of Arviat to the national stage of one of Canada’s most-watched newscasts.

Just months after becoming the first Inuk journalist to win Best National Reporter at the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards, Taylor made history this week as the first Inuk journalist to guest-host CBC’s The National, the network’s flagship nightly news program.

And she did it wearing her love of the North on her sleeve. Literally.

Pulling from her personal wardrobe and borrowing clothes from northern designers and friends, Taylor wore garments like a moosehide “salmon shawl” jacket by designer Kaylyn Baker, a silk floral kalikuq jacket by Kugluktuk’s Barbara Olson, and a beaded necklace by Yukon designer Vashti Etzel, among other items.

“I like to represent the North in what I’m wearing,” said Taylor, who is based in Yellowknife as a reporter for The National.

The sealskin vest she wore for Monday’s broadcast was particularly special for her.

“My daughter, she’s a seamstress, and she made that for me specifically for my first national hosting show, so that was really important to me,” Taylor said.

“If you think about it, the set on The National has never had sealskin, moosehide or caribou tufting on it, and this week it’s seen all three,” she laughed.

“I think that’s pretty special.”

What’s also been special for Taylor this week is the important northern-focused stories she’s been able to share with viewers.

This includes a story about the first formal visit by Inuit tuberculosis survivors to the site of the sanatorium in Hamilton, Ont., where they were sent as children, a place where they experienced traumatic isolation from their families.

“The highlight of my week was when I introduced Salome Avva [to speak] on the Inuit elders’ visit,” Taylor said of her CBC reporting colleague.

The two conversed in Inuktitut for a moment before starting the interview.

“I felt it was really important to chat with [Avva] on The National, from one Inuk to another, about this very important piece of Inuit history.”

The show also covered the wildfires burning near Yellowknife, an ongoing story Taylor felt was important to draw attention to.

“We need Indigenous people telling Indigenous stories, and we need to encourage anyone who’s got a passion for telling stories to get into journalism,” she said.

“There’s just so many opportunities right now, that I want Indigenous youth to think that they too can do it,” she said.

Friday is Taylor’s last night on The National. Next up for her is hosting World Report on CBC Radio next week, before returning home to Yellowknife where she hopes to “get a regular sleep,” she laughed.

Taylor said her own path into journalism has been “a long, bumpy road.”

After starting a family and working for different Inuit and government organizations in her 20s, Taylor decided at age 30 to attend the Academy of Broadcasting Corporation in Winnipeg.

She went on to work for APTN and eventually returned north to host CBC’s Northbeat, a dream gig for her since she was young.

“That was my golden ticket,” she said.

However, “I make it sound like maybe it’s been easy, but really, it hasn’t,” Taylor stressed, noting she tried three times to work for the CBC before finally joining the network.

Going back to school with young children in tow took time and effort, and lots of support from her husband and encouragement from her mother.

“Things do not come easy, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of patience,” she said.

“I never thought that I would host The National. It was way beyond my comprehension of something that could ever be done.”

However, she doesn’t want this hosting experience to be solely about her.

“I just really want people in the North to hear me when I say that I’m doing this for them so that our people know that they can succeed,” Taylor said.

“Inuit should have been hosting The National a long time ago. There’s many journalists, amazing hosts before me, that could have done this job.

“I don’t know why the time is now, but it is, and I’m not taking that for granted at all,” she said.



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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Urban Mama on

    Awesome job Juanita. Good to see Inuit women who are confident and willing to learn.
    Keep it up.

    • Posted by Rural Dad on

      And Inuit men as well… listening to the verbal abuse coming from an official during a session directed at John Amagoalik, it was stunning to hear that. He held his ground as he does.

  2. Posted by Lydia Bardak on

    Juanita – CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are rockin’ those beautiful indigenous designs!!! (But I keep getting messed up when I hear your voice at 10:00 pm and think it’s Northbeat time ?). Way to go!

  3. Posted by Inuk living on the west country on

    As time goes on. I became more aware with a feeling that you are Inuk. We love you even more then ever. For a long time we thought you were a Cree girl. We are so proud of you. Love you. Thank you for all the work you do. We have had a long journey. We do not want to loose our new life. We can’t hold on to our old way of life any more and hope for the best. We are proud who we are.

  4. Posted by CBC National Fan on

    Hope to see Juanita Taylor on future The National news broadcasts. This ‘first’ should not be the last!

    • Posted by Margaret D’Hont on

      I agree. I remember you from Arviat and I hope to be seeing more of you on The National! Way to go!

  5. Posted by Charlotte on

    I happen to be in Germany watching the national a day late. So good to see Inuk being the host you did an awesome job. I also like the fact that you are a role model to so many. Nakummek

  6. Posted by Marg Allison on

    Thank you for sharing about the Inuit and their stories. You did a wonderful job all week. Hope we can see you again soon.

  7. Posted by Robyn Schell on

    Love to hear more of Juanita’s stories about the north. Also, would welcome more of Juanita as the host of The National.

  8. Posted by Blaine Ellis on

    Congrats Juanita! Miss watching you on the evening news. May start watching the National again.

  9. Posted by Juanita Rocks on

    Always nice to see and hear Juanita reporting news! Way to go being on The National! You rock!

  10. Posted by Tara Sinclair on

    Please CBC make Ms Taylor a permanent host of the National. What an absolute pleasure to see the news delivered so professionally: no distracting waving of hands, drawing attention to the speaker, instead of what is being said and no dramatic voice inflection, suggesting bias. Ms Taylor is exactly what a highly respected newscast demands.

  11. Posted by Tessa Macintosh on

    Really impressed with Juanita’s professionalism and cultural individuality! It gives me confidence in CBC that they made the move to have a real person, an Inuk delivering the national news. So authentically Canadian! Nakurmiik! Mahsi cho!

    • Posted by Good Work on

      Absolutely agreed, we need to see more of Canada’s minority groups like this – of course that can’t be the only criteria, one must be competent as well, as in this case. Well done, well done.

  12. Posted by Juanita – Quana on

    Awesome! I enjoy watching the news again, as Tessa said, “So authentically Canadian!” Keep it up Juanita!

  13. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    Well done, an example everyone can learn from!

  14. Posted by Arnaruniaq Anna on

    Such a beautiful story of resilience and reconciliation. Our Inuit people are thriving and strong. Love seeing Juanita on CBC again and so elegantly rocking our crafts. Congratulations Juanita…so proud of you!

  15. Posted by Random on


  16. Posted by Eunice ter Mors on

    I am glad I came across this article today. I watched Jaunita for the first time on The National and was impressed by her serious, authentic and warm approach to the news stories. Her wardrobe was also captivating and learning now that her daughter sewed her sealskin vest was heartwarming.

  17. Posted by Jocelyn Harder on

    Hello – I wanted to say how much I enjoyed having Juanita Taylor host The National earlier this past summer. I particularly appreciate when she ends any news stories she does with a few words in Inuktut.

    Warm regards to all of CBC!
    Jocelyn Harder

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