Tasty treats on the flight from Iqaluit to Ottawa in March 2020. (Photo by Patricia Lightfoot)

Signing off from Nunatsiaq News

The need remains for more northern voices

By Patricia Lightfoot

This week I sign off from Nunatsiaq News, having seen my successor, Corey Larocque, make a strong start in the managing editor role.

Here are a few reflections on the work we do and the need for more Inuit voices in the paper, as well as an expression of gratitude for time spent in the North.

Patricia Lightfoot is the former managing editor of Nunatsiaq News.

At the paper, our primary goal is to serve our readers by bringing them the news of the day and digging into the more complicated stories. That often involves reading the 800-page reports that others do not, monitoring the courts, paying close attention to the inner workings of the Government of Nunavut, following developments in the mining industry, and tracking the highs and lows of the telecom business.

Our readers can always rely on the news team at Nunatsiaq News to be watching events in Nunavut and Nunavik closely.

Working at Nunatsiaq News, it was great to be able to ask the long-time observers of the North on the news team what’s the history here, who is that person and why are they behaving that way, and to be able to tap into decades of knowledge.

I also appreciated seeing new reporters settle into their work in Iqaluit, get to know the people and stories of the North, make the necessary connections, and learn on the ground what is truly important to our readers.

Northern voices

Some of my most fulfilling moments working at the newspaper have involved publishing the voices of northern residents. The paper should inform our readers and speak to them, but it should not speak for them. Instead, we should listen and amplify their voices.

We published a commentary this summer by Miali-Elise Coley-Sudlovenick and Stephanie Bernard, both of whom are Black residents of Iqaluit, on what George Floyd’s death meant for them and about the experience of anti-Inuit and anti-Black racism in Nunavut.

Marley Angugatsiaq Dunkers wrote a commentary about how she is currently affected by Nunavut’s housing shortage, and her concerns about finding accommodation after she graduates and leaves student housing.

Nunavik student Andrea Brazeau’s open letter to Quebec premier François Legault explained how the poor internet service in her home community of Kangiqsualujjuaq meant she had to spend the pandemic in Montreal rather than at home in order to keep up with her studies online.

In each case, these contributions from the point of view of people experiencing these key issues complemented and enhanced the paper’s reporting on those topics. The paper and readers would benefit from hearing more of those voices.

Nunatsiaq News staff have provided journalism workshops to Inuit student groups in Kuujjuaq, Ottawa and Montreal as a way of planting the seed that young Inuit can tell their stories and people will listen.

Similarly, the Nunatsiaq News bursaries, which were established recently, are intended to support Inuit students from Nunavut and Nunavik with an interest in post-secondary studies in broadcast television and radio, communications, journalism or media studies.

Encouraging and supporting contributions from northern voices remains a work in progress for the paper, and one that is vital.

On a personal note, I feel privileged to have spent time working in our Iqaluit office, swimming at the Aquatic Centre, shopping at Malikkaat and at the museum, walking along the shore to Apex, and listening to music on Friday night at the Legion.

Inuit artists, including Riit, Aasiva and Elisapie, will continue to be a part of the soundtrack to my post-Nunatsiaq News life. When I can travel to Toronto again, I’ll certainly visit the textiles from Kinngait Studios at the Textile Museum of Canada.

To our readers and my colleagues, I’d like to say Qujannamik.

Patricia Lightfoot is the former managing editor of Nunatsiaq News.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Geena on

    If you need more northern voices then stop over censoring the comment section. It appears that anything outside of adgenda support never makes this section. I know I’m not the only one with opinions and things to say that never pass n.news audits. Even my comments have been manipulated before posting.

    • Posted by True Story Geena on

      I could not agree more with your words here Geena. I have literally had the words I have written changed in the comments section in recent times, and it is extremely frustrating and insulting. Then to speak of “northern voices” well… the manipulation of language in the service of manipulating opinion and perception is a sight to behold here.
      I have followed this publication for more than a decade and have commented many times over that period. I have never seen anything like what we have recently experienced here. I sincerely hope this era is behind us and we can get back to truly hearing all “northern voices,” not just the ones that fit a certain sanitized version of reality.

    • Posted by Publish Names on

      I have to agree with this comment, which will probably be removed lol. Yet they pick and choose which trolls comments to leave on or extremely racist comments get left up. They should switch to requiring another platform to comment, the way that cbc does. You have to use google/facebook/instagram account to sign in and comment.

      • Posted by Troll or Heretic? on

        I’m not sure if publishing names is necessarily the best answer here, although I get the sentiment and the reasoning for it too. I actually think it will suppress some of the best discussions on these boards (Note, it’s not hard to create a false identity on social media)
        Question: is the point is to avoid overt racism? If so, wouldn’t we all agree these kinds of comments should never make it past the moderators in the first place?
        Granted, I have seen comments that I thought were questionable, but, it’s rare to see a comment that is blatant racism, in my opinion. And, some that are I am happy to have left up so we can take them apart. This honestly seems more productive to me at times.
        I think we need to be careful not to over censor ‘voices’ who we might find distasteful either. It’s easy to weaponize language to silence comments we just don’t like, agree with, or most importantly that present a perspective we don’t want to see circulated. This is why activists today will call words harmful, or violence. It’s hard to argue that violence should be allowed. But maybe we should step back and look at the credibility of these definitions in the first place.
        All this said, I concede that we will probably never find a place that satisfies everyone.

  2. Posted by Western media epistemological disconnect on

    I commend the efforts made over the years by print media to cover stories. For the most part, it creates relevant and necessary public discourse. But where print media fails to connect is with what fundamentally matters to Inuit; which recognizes that we are an Indigenous society that is fighting the daily forces of ongoing colonialism and trying hard to movie towards self determination and reclaiming structural power. We, as Inuit need space for that. You need to encourage Inuit to write with that lens in mind. That’s the kind of print media that I would gladly buy every week.

    • Posted by iWonder on

      Sincere question, what do you mean by epistemological?

    • Posted by Northern Voice – They Are Diverse on

      That is not promoting ‘Northern Voices”, that is promoting “inuit voices”. That is a laudable goal, but not the thrust of this article.

      Apparently, one only has a “northern voice” if one is Inuit. Nunatsiaq news is not here to promote the voice of any one ethnicity, but the voice of a geographic region.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        The comment was directed at Inuit concerns though, and there’s nothing wrong with that; that doesn’t need to be a controversial point. Why are some non-Inuit so reactive when they feel they are being left out of or are not at the center of the narrative?
        To me it’s an interesting but confusing comment and I’d appreciate if the author would help discern it’s meaning a bit. For example, what does it mean to say “We, as Inuit need space for that. You need to encourage Inuit to write with that lens in mind.”
        Who needs to encourage Inuit to write that way? Nunatsiaq News?
        Another thing to consider, is it possible that not all Inuit do want to write that way?
        The idea of space is another interesting one. For the most part it seems we have a space here, although it is limited in some ways, I’m not sure how else it could be here. I have often thought it would be nice to see a broader platform for public discourse in Nunavut; a video-blog or podcast or something like that would be great if done right, and doing it right would not be that easy. The biggest obstacle to success would be ensuring truly diverse views (not the faux diversity which has become code for progressive orthodoxy), while avoiding the toxicity born in the stagnant puddles of group think.

        • Posted by No Reason to Wonder on

          I think that it may be a reaction to being repeatedly told that we are ‘guests’ in Nunavut. To being told to our faces to go back where we came from, from events that celebrate only Inuit culture rather than the cultures of all participants (looking at you nan and your ‘culture day’ that celebrates only Inuit culture while ignoring students of other backgrounds), to being referred as “African-Americans”, and similar xenophobic behaviours.

          It is also a nod to the reality that Iqaluit is very rapidly becoming more diverse and that in the very near future Inuit will be a plurality, not a majority. All Canadians make up ‘northern voices’, not just Inuit.

          • Posted by wonder on

            Why can’t Inuit be the dominate culture in their own homeland?

            After all, Inuit created the Territory and have lived here since time immemorial.

            Why must outsiders in any country transform the social fabric of said jurisdiction? Entitled much?

            • Posted by Is it tho?? on

              I’m not sure why people use the saying ‘time immemorial,’ which means “ancient beyond memory or record” or, “indefinitely ancient.” Yet we know that Inuit moved into the Canadian Arctic around 1,000 to 800 years ago.

            • Posted by No Need to Wonder on

              Inuit are the current dominant culture of Nunavut, this is very true.

              However, non-Inuit residents of Nunavut are not ‘outsiders’, they are Canadians on Canadian soil, with all the rights and privileges of such. They clearly have a right to have voice in their society. This is not entitlement, this is citizenship.

              Inuit in other parts of Canada haven’t been shy about trying to influence society where they are. Why would the minority residents of this part of Canada be any different?

              Xenophobic attitudes have no place in either country or our territory. We should welcome and respect all Canadians, regardless of ethnicity.

            • Posted by What is Entitlement? on

              I’d be curious about your definition of ‘entitled’.

              I see nothing entitled about all Nunavummiut wanting their rightful voice in the running of their home.

              By a large margin the most ‘entitled’ people in Nunavut, as a matter of law, are beneficiaries. I assume that you are in favour this sort of entitlement, but opposed to other types?

              Maybe I’m wrong, but what I took away from your comment was that you just want the non-Inuit residents of our territory to be quiet, or preferably be quiet and go away? Is this correct, or did I misunderstand?

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