Concordians and Indigenous partners brought their latest film project to COP 15 in Montreal
Two Concordia journalism students, under the direction of Aphrodite Salas, assistant professor of journalism, and their Indigenous partners presented their work in the Canada Pavilion at the recent COP 15. The United Nations-organized conference, held in Montreal from December 7 to 19, examined the critical issue of preserving biodiversity.
The team produced a documentary and multimedia project featuring the Inuit village of Inukjuak. The documentary, Innavik: Leading the way to a clean energy future, shares the story of the construction of the first hydroelectric facility in Arctic Quebec.
It examines the shift away from the hazardous use of diesel fuel that the Northern community has relied on for decades. CTV News was a partner in the project
‘I couldn’t be prouder’
“My students worked so hard on this project, and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Salas says.
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project also received financial support from the Petro-Canada Young Innovators Award, which Salas won in 2020.
The team also produced a documentary featuring Simeonie Nalukturuk, a community Elder and former mayor of Inukjuak, who passed away during the project’s production.
A Northern premiere
The first public screening of both documentaries took place at Uquutaq High School in Inukjuak on November 2, the day before the entire multimedia project went live on CTV Montreal. After the screening, the school held an assembly that Salas and her students attended via Zoom.
“We talked about the process of filming, conciliatory and collaborative journalism and answered questions they had about journalism at Concordia,” Salas recalls.
The screening at COP 15 followed a busy month of November, which featured several other launch events.
Aalacie Nalukturuk, widow of Simeonie, was in attendance at the Uquutaq High School event.
“I was grateful to see my husband in a documentary sharing what he was passionate about. It all blended so well with the Innavik documentary,” Nalukturuk says. ”It was just amazing to see the young leaders of today leading the way with enthusiasm. Nakurmiik to all involved.”
Nancy Osbourne, the high school’s administrator, was involved with the planning of the screening, and says she was moved.
“I’m so privileged and honoured to live in a place like this. So many don’t even know it exists. I get to share in the culture and language,” she says.
Innavik was also shown on November 11 at COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt.
“To know these docs were launched here and on CTV and shown in Egypt, it’s impressive and exciting,” Osbourne adds.
Eric Atagotaaluk, director of the Pituvik Landholding Corporation, agrees that the school presentation went well. He is featured prominently in the climate documentary and has worked on the renewable energy project for almost 20 years.
“It was an honour to present to the students a documentary showcasing where a project that was initiated by local people that will hopefully be providing a more optimistic future for the community and its members, and certainly the role our community, is now playing in the battle against climate change by reducing almost 100 per cent of our dependency on diesel,” he says.
CTV online launch
“I’m really happy to see the project finally being published after all the work we put in over the past year,” says Kaaria Quash, Concordia graduate student, journalist and filmmaker. The project forms part of his thesis.
On November 3, CTV Montreal held a launch featuring interviews with Salas’s research partners at Indigenous Clean Energy and Pituvik in Inukjuak.
The network unveiled a multimedia website featuring the Innavik documentary, the documentary with Simeonie Nalukturuk, a photo gallery, a written article with interactive elements and several sidebars.
Some team members admit they experienced pre-launch nerves.
“It was an intense last push getting the whole package together,” says former student Luca Caruso-Moro, now currently a full-time journalist at CTV Montreal, who was responsible for all the website page design.
“I had trouble sleeping the night before since there were so many elements that had to coexist. Was it all going to work once we hit ‘publish’?” Caruso-Moro recalls thinking. “Overall, I’m thrilled — the team at CTV was extremely helpful in helping our work shine.”
‘An expression of collaborative and global communications’
The whirlwind launch culminated with an international event at COP 27, where Innavik was featured at a special event hosted by Indigenous Clean Energy.
Chris Henderson is the executive director of Indigenous Clean Energy and attended the Egypt screening. He also spoke on the panel at COP 15.
“During the winter, the hours of sunlight are short in the Canadian Arctic. Yet the story of Innavik Hydro captured in the documentary is a bright ray of hope for a cleaner, brighter future for the community of Inukjuak, Canada and the world,” Henderson says.
“Viewing of the documentary at the COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt and now the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal is an expression of collaborative and global communications that respects Indigenous cultures.”
A new way of doing journalism
Salas, who grounds her work in the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says she’s honoured by the warm welcome the community granted her and her team.
“It’s serious outreach in a community where it’s not necessarily easy to connect,” she notes.
The team credits Salas for her innovative teaching methods.
“When you work on a project for so long and you finally release it, it inevitably brings an ocean of emotions,” says Virginie Ann, a journalist currently based at CBC Yukon.
“I look at where I was as a journalist when I first joined the team in 2018 versus now. I’m so proud of the work Aphrodite does and continues to do. She is deconstructing an old way of doing journalism and seeing her create new paths for us all is deeply inspiring.”
Find out more about Concordia’s Department of Journalism.
Watch the video of the screening and panel discussion of Innavik: Leading the way to a clean energy future at COP 15 in Montreal.