by Andrea V. Breen, Ethan Tassiuk, Jamie Bell
Originally presented at Pathways to Resilience IV in Cape Town, South Africa, 2017
AFS was a tool for survivance and a way to ensure that the community had power over its own stories and its own research. Stories are constantly changing. Life in Arviat is complicated; the pathways to resilience are complicated in the context of de- colonization, challenges to ways of life such as climate change.
In 2017, AFS was at somewhat of a crossroads; looking at how to sustain itself and grow as the original youth who founded the organization graduated and moved on to adult life, such as college and university down south, and at the the territorial Trades School, working at the mine and raising their young children.
Its members, projects and experiences were shaped as much as possible with a strong foundation grounded in traditional Inuit values. These include, among many, being welcoming, open and inclusive (tunnganarniq), the concept of serving others (pijitsirarniq), the acquisition of skills and knowledge (pilimmaksarniq), working together for a common purpose (piliriqatigiingniq) and, perhaps most importantly, taking the long view (ungasiktumut isumaksaqsiuniq).
The experiences of the Arviat Film Society and Global Dignity Canada provided models for approaches to education and research that are community-based and that give youth, families and other members of the community the tools and skills they needed to create and tell their own stories.
When the Society and many of the projects began, the majority of the youth were too young to expand on some of these experiences, but ten years later, most have now graduated and are transitioning into college, university and employment.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Arviat Film Society involved its use of digital infrastructures lies in how those structures were adaptable, allowing for students to stay connected while travelling and attending school in other places. Looking back, we can see a wider view of its fuller potential as a model for supporting successful transitions beginning to emerge.
Our conversations raised questions for us and highlighted much that is wrong with the institutions in which we work. Our conversations have also shown that there already exists approaches and tools in the community that can help to effectively address the problems of education and research.