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Takuginai – Background

The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation’s (IBC) goal is to promote Inuit culture and language through the medium of television. It is clear that if the culture is to survive, Inuit youth must understand and identify with their history and their people. One of the chief threats to that sense of cultural identity in past years has been the tide of southern television programming aimed at children. Takuginai was created to help counteract that tide. Formal evaluations and viewer feedback have confirmed that it’s doing just that for its target audience.

Directly or indirectly, all of the television programming produced by the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation is intended to promote Inuit culture and language. To achieve that goal, no audience is more important...or more difficult to reach...than children.

Inuit children’s programming was first identified as a priority in 1983 by IBC’s Board of Governors. After three years of research, consultation, planning and fundraising, IBC began training for the Children’s Television Unit. The first series of Takuginai, which means Look Here, was produced and broadcast to a northern audience in the spring of 1987.

Takuginai celebrates traditional Inuit values of community and respect for elders in an atmosphere of kindness and general all round fun. Peopled by a mixture of Inuit families from the region and puppets created by the Takuginai crew, this series is set firmly on the tundra and in the northern way of life.

Takuginai has a lively and supportive community of characters. Two favorites are Johnny, the ever-hungry Lemming who has survived a variety of ill advised adventures from riding in a weather balloon to trying out a punk hair-cut, and Granny the toothless, spectacled old woman who dishes out humour and love along with her wisdom.

The half hour episodes explore themes like healthy bodies, making things, and singing from a northern, Inuit perspective. The style of Takuginai reflects IBC’s philosophy of friendly, accessible television. Any of the regular characters is liable to take a turn at hosting an episode, even Jaji, the puppet cameraman takes an occasional turn in front of the camera. Individual segments within an episode vary from traditional storytelling illustrated by Inuit artists, to music videos performed by popular Nunavut performers.

In summer there is clam digging at a beach on the Arctic Ocean and in winter it’s ice fishing with a dog team. There are songs and legend stories, happy times and silly faces. The sun stays up for six months and the sun goes down for six months. The location is a magical place unlike any ever seen on television. Takuginai is a show that sparkles with the joy of life in the land of Canada’s Arctic Inuit.

In Takuginai, IBC has created a program, which promotes the use of Inuktitut and enhances the sense of cultural identity among young Inuit. Formal and informal response to the program confirms that it succeeds on several levels...as entertainment, as a teaching tool for specific skills, and as a vehicle for providing positive role models for its audience.

The series has been well received by its audience. Takuginai receives more fan mail, invitations to communities and visitors than any other IBC series. IBC receives numerous requests for tapes of the programs from schools and from individual viewers.

Takuginai has also been recognized outside Nunavut. In 1996 and 1997 Takuginai won a Special Recognition Award from the Alliance for Children and Television and in 1990 the Children’s Broadcast Institute presented Takuginai with an Award of Merit. Takuginai’s program “Puppet Health” was awarded the Telefilm APTN Best Aboriginal Language Award in 2002.

More important than the program’s popularity is its effectiveness. Parents, teachers and elders confirm Takuginai is teaching language, life skills, and cultural concepts.

Takuginai is produced out of Iqaluit with contributions from IBC centers in Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Igloolik, and Taloyoak. On occasion, events with Inuit children in Ottawa are also covered as part of the show. The current producer is Michael Ipeelie, (otherwise known as “Magic Mike”), who also puppeteers and often hosts the show. The approximate budget for the show is half a million dollars per season (26 episodes). Takuginai is broadcast on APTN.

Festivals & Awards


Telefilm Canada/APTN Award
for Best Aboriginal Language Program to
Takuginai’s program “Puppet Health”



National Aboriginal Achievement Award to
Leetia Ineak, Takuginai Producer
Media and Communications



The Festival of Television for Australian Children
Queensland, Australia
August 25 - 29, 1997



Alliance for Children and Television
Special Recognition Award

Native Americas International Film Exposition
Santa Fe, New Mexico
August 9 - 15, 1996

12th International Festival of Film and Video
for Children and Young Adults of Iran
Kerman, Iranw
September 28 - October 4, 1996

Northern Lights International Film Festival
Anchorage, Alaska
September 1996

The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival
Chicago, Illinois
October 4 - 13, 1996

The Far North Film Festival
Yellowknife, NWT
November 29 - 30, 1996


1989/90 Children’s Broadcast Institute
Award of Merit


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