The Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA) is doing a pilot project to create more radio programs in Inuinnaqtun by training community members in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay to produce and edit their own radio content.

The Kitikmeot Regional Radio project will provide regional programming to residents in those two communities, focusing primarily on issues important to Inuit in the region. If the two-year pilot is successful, the program will expand to include all five communities in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut.   

Currently, residents in the Kitikmeot can only hear English, Inuktitut, and Inuvialuktun on the radio.

'Putting the power into the people'

"This radio — we call it radio in a box, radio 2.0 — uses user-generated content to fill radio programming slots," says Jason Tologanak, director of beneficiary services with KIA.

"Audience members will actually be able to physically participate in the radio content that's aired over the network by signing up, recording, editing and uploading Inuinnaqtun content using software called OpenBroadcaster."

Community members can use the software to schedule radio programming, which will then be broadcast to each community through KIA's partnership with SSi Micro.

SSi will construct and commission a satellite-supported FM radio network in the Kitikmeot communities of Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay. Once in operation, SSi's radio network will provide a platform for KIA to broadcast daily.

Tologanak says the goal is to get as much community-generated content on the air as possible by continually supporting residents along the way.

"We're putting the power into the people to be able to provide content. We're providing them with resources, training, and the infrastructure to be able to do so.

"It's our hope that KIA will be launching a Kitikmeot media fund, where language activists, teachers, elders and young people can apply for funding to actually document elders stories, record Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun music."

On the air by June

Tologanak recently ran two radio production training courses in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, with about 20 participants in each.

"They had the opportunity to record and use software to actually edit their recordings. Once that was completed they actually got hands on training to use OpenBroadcaster software to schedule the programming and actually create a mock radio show."

Tologanak says one of the main challenges will be getting people to submit content, but said he hopes a steady access to training and funding will help address that issue.  

"I'm hoping that every single member of the community participates and takes pride in this radio network," says Tologanak. 

"It is our dream that in five years time, that language will become very visible in the homes, that young people will be picking it up, and continue our dream of having a fully bilingual society."

According to Tologanak, the Kitikmeot Regional Radio project is currently in the process of applying for a radio programming licence, but hopes to go live on the air in two pilot communities — Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk — by June.