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INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR CANADA REJECTS 'INUIT POINT OF VIEW'

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  • George Lessard
    ... Subject: INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR CANADA REJECTS INUIT POINT OF VIEW From: newsletter@isuma.tv Date: Wed, July 30, 2008 10:45 To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2008
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      ---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
      Subject: INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR CANADA REJECTS 'INUIT POINT OF VIEW'
      From: newsletter@...
      Date: Wed, July 30, 2008 10:45
      To: media@...
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR CANADA REJECTS 'INUIT POINT OF VIEW'

      The clock is ticking. Eight weeks and waiting, Inuit filmmaker
      Zacharias Kunuk still hopes to learn why International Polar Year
      Canada rejected his internet project, From an Inuit Point of View:
      Arctic Climate Change from the Inuit Side.

      Since its start-up last December, Kunuk's new website http://www.isuma.tv
      shows hundreds of user-generated videos in sixteen Indigenous
      languages by Inuit and Aboriginal filmmakers across Canada and
      worldwide. When Canada's International Polar Year Office called for
      proposals for communication, training and outreach in the north,
      Kunuk offered IsumaTV as a new platform for discussion of Climate
      Change from an Inuit point of view, enabling Inuit to contribute to
      Canadian understanding of the Arctic as a front line of Global
      Warming. On May 28, IPY Canada Executive Director, Kathleen Fischer,
      announced $5.2 million in grants for 17 projects but nothing for
      IsumaTV. Instead, IPY funded an IMAX film for the Sudbury Science
      Centre celebrating Canadian IPY research; another documentary about
      IPY research on seabirds; and a third about the early 19th century
      arctic travels of a National Museum of Canada biologist.

      On the heels of the Prime Minister's historic Apology to Inuit and
      Aboriginal Canadians for a century of government assimilation, Kunuk,
      an Officer of the Order of Canada and recent recipient of an honorary
      Doctor of Law degree from Trent University, was shocked at how his
      proposal was dismissed. 'First I got a form letter,' says Kunuk. 'You
      know, "I regret to inform you...a large number of excellent proposals
      were submitted...." But when I saw what they funded I wrote to ask
      why we got nothing. Then I got a second form letter, a little longer
      than the first. I knew this was another form letter because they sent
      me the wrong one! Mine was addressed to somebody else who complained
      too!'

      Kunuk's rejected project would have trained a dozen young Inuit to
      make short films about climate changes in their home communities, and
      given prominent Inuit spokespersons including Sheila Watt- Cloutier,
      former nominee with Al Gore for the Nobel Peace Prize, Mary Simon,
      former Arctic Ambassador and now president of Inuit Tapariit
      Kanatami, Peter Irniq, former Nunavut Language Commissioner and Hon.
      Louis Tapardjuk, Nunavut Minister of Culture, Language, Elders and
      Youth, a forum to discuss the changing Arctic from the perspective of
      Inuit human rights. Ms. Simon and Mr. Irniq both were invited by the
      Prime Minister to join him on the floor of the House for his June 11
      Apology, at the same time their contributions to IsumaTV were being
      refused by IPY Canada.

      'Up here in Baffin Island,' Kunuk explains, 'we have a $4 billion
      iron mine planning to run giant tankers right through the walrus
      calving ground. Hunters are falling through thin ice. Southern
      scientists tell us polar bears are becoming extinct. If the Northwest
      Passage opens up we might see Russian, Danish and American warships on
      our front doorstep. Our government should be asking for our knowledge
      through the internet, not refusing it. We're still here. Doesn't
      anyone want to know what we think?'

      IsumaTV already contains Kunuk's 2001 Cannes Festival winner,
      Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, the well- known TV series Our Dene
      Elders, first-person testimonies by Inuit and Aboriginal Residential
      School survivors and a growing collection of films, music and blogs
      by individual filmmakers and Indigneous film festivals in Canada, the
      U.S., Mexico, Australia and others. In its first six months IsumaTV
      has emerged as a global blockbuster, with almost three million hits
      from thirty different countries.

      Despite IPY rejection, IsumaTV will grow in 2008-09 as an interactive
      media and networking platform for Truth and Reconciliation, where both
      Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians can work together on common
      urgent issues of social change and global survival in the 21st
      century.

      -30-

      CONTACT: Zach Kunuk, zkunuk@... 867.934.8809. Norman Cohn,
      cohn@... 514.576.0707; Lucius Barre 917.353.2268 or visit
      www.isuma.tv and www.isuma.ca.



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