N.W.T. teens receive $25K to keep publishing magazine dedicated to Inuvialuit youth

When childhood friends Cassidy Lennie-Ipana and Mataya Gillis began their Inuvialuit youth magazine Nipaturuq a year ago, they had no clue they would now be working on its fourth edition.

Gillis, 16, from Inuvik, N.W.T., said it all started when the two took part in the Inuvialuit Living History Project, when they travelled to Ivvavik National Park and had to complete a project in the summer of 2019.

“We thought it would just be this little fake magazine,” Gillis said. “We had no feeling that it was going to be big.”

Now the magazine just landed $25,000 in funding from Canadian Roots Exchange to continue publishing.

Gillis said part of the reason they continued is they started to see the impact of the magazine, which focuses on Inuvialuit youth.

“People just seemed really interested in it and we thought, wow, this could make such a big difference because it’s a platform for Inuvialuit youth,” Gillis said.

“I’m really proud to be a part of a change … talking to youth and hearing how passionate they are about climate change, mental health and breaking the stigma. It’s crazy that people don’t listen to youth because youth have so much to say.”

The first edition of the magazine was made possible with $3,000 in funding from the Inuvialuit Living History Project.

Gillis said so far the three editions of the magazine have focused on what being Inuvialuit means to youth, and the last two were on climate change and mental health.

The teen said the Inuvialuit Communications Society (ICS) has been pivotal in guiding the teens through the process of making a magazine and helping get the publication out to people.

Broadening audience

ICS runs their own magazine called Tusaayaksat, which is given out to all Inuvialuit beneficiaries around the world. The organization is now making sure that they are sending Nipaturuq as well to all of their subscribers. It’s also giving the two teens access to its printer.

“We can offer connections to different community members,” said Tamara Voudrach, manager of the communications society.

“Really, it comes down to being able to offer them resources that they actually need.”

Voudrach said they are giving mentorship to the young creators from its magazine’s editor, showing the teens how a magazine comes together.

“We just treated it like our younger sibling,” Voudrach said with a laugh, adding that the magazine is inspiring.

“It’s groups like Nipaturuq that we are starting to look to in terms of what do they expect us to be and what can we offer them as a way for us to grow our future as a community and a region,” she said.

Becky Goodwin, a team member of the Inuvialuit Living History Project, said she’s been watching Gillis and Lennie-Ipana’s work from afar with pride.

Submitted by Mataya Gillis

“It was a really amazing privilege to get to watch the magazine start from this kind of little spark of an idea … then getting to see and hold a printed copy,” Goodwin said.

“Knowing that it succeeded beyond that, how lucky am I that I got to see that? So cool.”

Looking for successors

The magazine has now added another team member to contribute but Gillis says they are hoping to expand even more.

She wants to make sure there is a team that takes over when she and Lennie-Ipana graduate this year.

“I want to mentor someone to take my job,” Gillis said. “I don’t want Nipaturuq to end when I’m gone.”

Gillis said their next issue is going to tackle racism. “We know a lot of people that are passionate about fighting racism or have dealt with racism,” she said.

She said they are also hoping to expand from being an Inuvialuit magazine to having voices from multiple Indigenous groups.

“It would be really nice to grow into an Indigenous youth magazine because it makes such a big impact and change, and having Indigenous youth voices and including everyone,” she said.

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