Montreal's first Inuktitut-language radio show hits the airwaves
There’s something new on the airwaves of Montreal, something the city has never heard before.
Every second Tuesday, Nipivut, meaning “our voice” in Inuktitut, airs from 6 to 7 p.m. on CKUT radio. Listeners can tune in to Inuktitut and English programming that captures the realities of Montreal’s Inuit.
Nipivut is one component of a broader community-driven research project focusing on Montreal's Inuit. The five-year Social Science and Humanities Research Council SSHRC Insight project is directed by Mark Watson, associate professor in Concordia's Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
“It the first Inuktitut-language broadcast from a southern city to a southern city,” Watson says.
“It's there to build capacity for Inuit to tell their own stories. There’s a significant Inuit population in the city, but no central community. There's no Inuit neighbourhood or official gathering spot. So this helps connect Inuit together who are physically spread out across Montreal.”
A show by the Inuit, for the Inuit
The idea for an Inuit radio show in the city has been around since before the project’s inception, Watson says. Since it was a perfect fit for their mandate, he and Stephen Puskas, the former project manager, got the ball rolling by contacting CKUT and finding the hosts.
Annie Pisuktie is the main host of the show. She is originally from Iqaluit but has been living in Montreal for the last 35 years. The first broadcast of Nipivut was also the first time she had ever been on the radio.
“I was very nervous,” she recalls with a chuckle, “and I felt that my voice was so nervous. When I listened to the first show, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I'm proud of myself! It sounds really good, I sound professional. I don't sound nervous.’ That's the best part.”
During their first call-in show, Pisuktie nearly jumped out of her seat in excitement when the lights on the studio console started flashing.
“It was so exciting just to know someone was listening,” says Pisuktie with a big grin. “I wanted to do a little dance right there.”
Connecting a community
Montreal is a hub for many Inuit, especially those from Nunavik, a region at the northern tip of Quebec. Inuit come to Montreal for a host of reasons: work, medical treatment, education, or just to enjoy the city.
There are two other main contributors to the show, Akenisie Qumak and Pauyungie Nutaraaluk. Nutaraaluk came to Montreal in 2008 from Inukjuak, a town in Nunavik.
“We listen to radio back home every day, listen to people who speak our language,” explains Nutaraaluk. “When we came here [to Montreal], there was nothing to listen to. It wasn’t the same; we missed that connection.”
Taking control of Inuit media representation
Watson is working with Inuit groups to get more community members involved in the broadcast. He hopes the show will someday become autonomous from the research project, and connect Montreal's Inuit for years to come.
“We’ve just started, and there's a long way to go. But it's really exciting and we're building a strong base moving forward,” Watson says.
“The representation of Inuit in the media is mostly negative. This is a chance to promote urban Inuit voices talking about urban Inuit affairs. Plus, we’re building journalism training and employability for Inuit youth into the production of the show. It's also a chance to educate the general public about Inuit life, as we have content in English.”
Find out more about Concordia's Department of Sociology and Anthropology.