The Fan Hitch   Volume 16, Number 2, March 2014

          Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog                                    
In This Issue....

From the Editor: Taxonomy

Taxonomy in Relation to the Inuit Dog

Steve’s Solo Journey

In the News

Far Fur Country Progress Report

Digital Indigenous Democracy Comes to the Canadian North

Media Review: Nuliajuk: Mother of the Sea Beasts

New Printing of Inuit Dog Thesis

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Defining the Inuit Dog

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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                                                              Image courtesy IsumaTV

Digital Indigenous Democracy Comes to the Canadian North

by Mark Hamilton

Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn have a new project named Digital Indigenous Democracy (DID). Working through the IsumaTV arm of the film company they co-founded with two others in 1990 they are bringing northern communities a high speed/high bandwidth local network that incorporates many of the advantages and features of high speed internet service in a manner that also supports the continuation of indigenous culture and the use of the native language, Inuktitut.

Internet access is limited in most northern communities. Its cost per kilobyte is high and the bandwidth is low. Kunuk states, “Internet service in remote communities in Canada’s North is at least 100 times behind what you’ve got in Toronto, in cost per kilobyte, and that’s going to get worse, not better. It may be 200 times worse next year, and that’s fatal.” Kunuk's "fatal" assessment is based on the collision between Inuktitut, historically an oral language, with low bandwidth internet access which forces northern users to use text communications. The fatalities Kunuk foresees are to Inuit culture and Inuktitut.

DID's solution is to install a low-cost local server/media player as well as an Open Mesh wireless network in the communities. This equipment provides high-speed use of IsumaTV's interactive multimedia tools (upload, download, mobile applications and networking) and internet-enabled local television channels to these communities.

The complete 5,000 title IsumaTV library of programs resides on each
DID server/media player and playlist choices as well as all other programing
decisions for the community are left to local control.
IsumaTV's catalogue
overwhelmingly features both northern lifestyle and
language programs,
the two areas of northern culture Kunuk and Cohn
seek to reinforce.
                                                              Image courtesy IsumaTV

Their pilot program has "wired" Igloolik, Cambridge Bay, Taloyoak, Arviat and Iqaluit. The first four also have IsumaTV local cable channels fed to residents' home televisions via the internet with Iqaluit soon to follow. DID hopes to add three or four additional communities during the warm months this year.

In addition, local videographers and budding filmmakers in the communities can upload their works to their community's local DID server/media player where those works can become part of the community's playlist. These works are subsequently distributed to the servers in all the other communities as well as included in the IsumaTV catalogue.

Kunuk and Cohn also foresee DID augmenting and facilitating inter community participation in the decision making process for larger resources development projects. Kunuk presented 71 Isuma call-in radio shows and video interviews at the hearings in 2012 on the then-proposed Baffinland iron mine at Mary River. The license subsequently issued to the project required additional multimedia consultation over the course of the project's duration.
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