Co-creating Inuvialuit Living History Through Visual Documentary Production

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: heritage, social sciences, traditional knowledge, archaeology

Principal Investigator: Hodgetts, Lisa M (3)
Licence Number: 16541
Organization: Western University
Licensed Year(s): 2019
Issued: May 09, 2019
Project Team: Dr. Natasha Lyons (Co-Principal Investigator, Simon Fraser University), Jason Lau (Student Researcher, Western University)

Objective(s): To work with elders, knowledge holders and youth to develop a visual documentary project highlighting Inuvialuit perspectives on their history and heritage.

Project Description: The Principle Investigator (PI) will work with Inuvialuit elders, knowledge holders and youth to develop a visual documentary project highlighting Inuvialuit perspectives on their history and heritage that blends photo, video, audio and graphic design. General research questions revolve around:

1) How can archaeologists foster the transfer of knowledge about traditional Inuvialuit activities, tools and archaeological sites between generations, specifically using visual documentary production and past digital archival media?
2) How can archaeologists involve Inuvialuit to document this knowledge visually and digitally in a manner that respects Inuvialuit cultural protocols?
3) How can archaeologists and research partners share this knowledge with Inuvialuit and the public at large through the ILH (Inuvialuit Living History) website ( in a way that reflects and represents Inuvialuit ways of knowing and being?

The PI will conduct semi-structured interviews with Inuvialuit elders in Inuvik in June 2019, asking how they learned about their history and heritage, and what Inuvialuit youth should know about both. In July 2019, the team will participate in an ILH community camp in Ivvavik National Park along with ten Inuvialuit youth, four elders and two knowledge holders. Guided by the elders and knowledge holders, camp participants will engage in traditional activities including fishing, sewing and tool making, examine artefacts from past excavations and visit archaeological sites.

During the camp, elders and youth will utilize photovoice and participatory video which involve the self-production of photography and film, to document their questions (from youth) and knowledge, memories and stories (from elders and knowledge holders), along with all camp activities.

The PI will facilitate focus groups in the final days of the camp, where discussion of the best way to present these materials on the ILH website. The PI will employ a decolonized design anthropology methodology which uses culturally-sensitive mock-ups and prototypes to involve camp participants in collaboratively designing the website experience. Following the camp, the PI will lead workshops in Inuvialuit Communications Society [(ICS) to teach audiovisual editing techniques to camp participants in order to co-create a final product(s) to post on the Inuvialuit Living History website (

The study is an aspect of the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada funded “Co-creating Inuvialuit Digital Archaeology and Heritage” project, also known as the Inuvialuit Living History Project. The project is a partnership between Western University, the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre (ICRC), the Inuvialuit Communications Society, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and Parks Canada. The project vision, developed collaboratively by representatives from all of the participating institutions states: The project aims to expand and rework the Inuvialuit Living History Website ( to create a lasting resource that Inuvialuit, other Canadians and everyone can draw on to learn, share and teach about Inuvialuit history and culture. It will provide increased access for Inuvialuit to their cultural objects held in southern repositories, share Inuvialuit and archaeological knowledge of the human history of the entire ISR from earliest times to the present, and reflect and reinforce the pride Inuvialuit feel in their culture and their strong bond with the land. By sharing the teachings of Inuvialuit elders, and sparking the interest of Inuvialuit youth it will work to counter the effects of structural racism that flow from their experience of colonialism, and thereby contribute to the reconciliation between Inuvialuit and Canada.

All research for the project will be conducted within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, in partnership with local participants. The knowledge and insights gained during this project will contribute to the understanding of Inuvialuit history and culture. With permission of the participants, the transcripts may be held on file at the ICC and can contribute to the preservation of Inuvialuit oral history and traditional knowledge. Furthermore, the knowledge gained during interviews with Inuvialuit community members will help to include Inuvialuit perspectives on the past and knowledge of their history in education material (online and in classrooms) as well as in academic discourse.

The focus groups and interviews will provide individuals with an opportunity to handle and engage with cultural artefacts that they may normally not have access to. Inuvialuit participants will also have the opportunity to include their voices in the archaeological discourse surrounding archaeological and heritage sites, artefacts and oral histories within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). Furthermore, Inuvialuit participants will have the chance to contribute a practical, visual and educational resource to the Inuvialuit Living History website (; through this, they will also learn and acquire valuable and transferable media production skills that can be used long after the research study.

The results of the research and requests for community input and feedback on preliminary research results will be disseminated to the communities in a variety of ways. The results will be presented during community meetings in Inuvik and a summary of the results will be made available to interested parties on the website for the Inuvialuit Living History Project ( through blog updates or on a page dedicated to the research. The Inuvialuit Living History Project publishes a biannual newsletter, which is distributed to all the ISR communities and shared electronically through the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) social media outlets. The results of this research will be shared in the newsletter. Finally, past experience suggests that the research will be of interest to northern media outlets. The research team will take every opportunity to solicit feedback and disseminate the results through TV, radio and print media. All participants will have access to the finished Masters dissertation through a link provided to them upon completion. Any named and/or quoted interview participants will be given the opportunity to approve whether, how, and in what context their quoted statements appear in the final products. With participants’ permission, copies of the interviews will be kept on file at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre. The team will host a screening/showing and/or opening event for the completed, final visual documentary project in Inuvik. Physical (i.e. DVDs or USBs) and digital (i.e. shared on our website or or copies of the final project will be created to disseminate to interested Inuvialuit groups such as the ICRC or IRC, as well as for the Inuvik public library.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 15, 2019 to August 31, 2019.