This past February, Skills Canada Nunavut and Reel Youth teamed up to offer a two-week intensive film program for students at Qiqirtaq High School in Gjoa Haven. The program was designed to offer hands-on, professional training in shooting and editing techniques to any interested students, provided they attended school everyday and participated in all program activities.
Led by instructors Mark Vonesch and Tiffany Moses, who are not new to the north and have run youth film programs across NWT and Nunavut including Kugluktuk, students began learning immediately through hands-on mentorship. We invited elders to participate in the program as students were encourage to use the modern film skills they were learning as an opportunity to capture their families’ traditional lives and stories, growing up Gjoa Haven. Participants came to school everyday eager to continue working hard on their films and collaborate with each other. Despite the bitter winter conditions, students were outside filming on-location in their community. They even decided worked over the weekends to make sure they collected all the footage they would need to edit their films before the program ended and take advantage of having professional training available to them for free.
Technology is changing rapidly and has become more accessible, even in remote areas like Gjoa Haven. However, the ability to use technology effectively is crucial for youth so that they are able to articulate their unique perspectives, share their experiences with a wider audience, and prepare them for future career opportunities. Film technology is especially enticing for youth, but due to the high cost of equipment and unreliable internet, youth in Nunavut have more difficulty getting exposure to it, but they are no less interested, which is why we wanted to run this program. It also provided an opportunity for elders to be engaged with youth during the learning process and connect in a new, creative way.
The response from the students and their families was very positive. Qiqirtaq High School principal and staff were very supportive of the program, and we could have run in without them. All students who participated received at CTS course credit in Media Studies. One of the participants, Jenny Aqqaq, who had never made a film before taking part in this program, went on to place 5th at the Skills Canada National Competition in Halifax. She hopes to continue on film-making and we can’t wait to see what she produces next. All the completed films were recently screened at the community for small, intimate film festival.
We hope that by seeing the real-life results of programs likes these, we can inspire educators and administrators to continue to offer more hands-on training programs in schools across Nunavut. Inspired students contribute to making their communities healthier and ultimately Nunavut youth will build the future of this territory and country, so why not give them the best opportunities possible?
Check out ALL the Qiqirtaq High School students’ short films:
Thank you to Trinia Sallerina and staff of Qiqirtaq High School, the Government of Nunavut, the elders, volunteers, Gjoa Haven community and student participants who made this program possible!