The Arnait Women’s Video Production archive held at Queen’s University (Ontario,Canada) contains 332 audio-visual assets on which are recorded 30 years of stories, interviews, production materials and documentation of women’s lives in Nunavut. As part of the Archive Counter Archive project and in collaboration with Queen’s Vulnerable Media Lab, the Arnait archive, which is considered to be a significant part of Inuit cultural heritage, is being digitized, translated, preserved and made accessible to communities, researchers and students.

Susan Lord with Elders at Queen’s University

The word Tuqquqtausimajut in Inuktitut roughly translates as “things that are treasured.”

Tuqquqtausimajut encompasses the meaning of the “living archive” in the sense of care and respect, and embodying the life of community, ancestors and those to come. This meaning came to the table during a five-hour-long meeting among members of Arnait Video Productions (AVP), the Vulnerable Media Lab (VML), and Queen’s University Archives, with the exceptional work of interpreter Zipporah Ungalaq, and where values such as responsibility and respect towards the community and Inuit forms of knowledge were put forward, as well as reciprocal listening and learning.

Arnait at Queen’s University

Working within the principles of the Tuqquqtausimajut as the living archive, the partnership between Arnait and Queen’s University enacts a dynamic relationship, which also helps to build community capacity for Inuktitut language and translation in Igloolik, Nunavut, through a process of community-based translation, story-telling, and intergenerational knowledge sharing. Finally, the act of cultural mediation, where the Elders are sent the digitized work and get to comment, tell stories and interact with the archive, allows for the works to come full circle and to be kept alive through the sharing of memories.