IIDF Beginnings

  • The success of the Television Northern Canada (TVNC) national network license application, and the resultant launching of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in 1999, greatly increased opportunities for independent indigenous production in Canada. It also created a demand for trained indigenous writers, producers, directors and skilled technicians to provide the programming for the network. 

    Production training specifically for indigenous people had been undertaken primarily by some of the northern broadcasting organizations that were partners in TVNC, with fluctuating and insufficient financial support from the federal and northern territorial governments. People from the provinces who accessed training for a career in production primarily did so by joining existing “mainstream” production programs in colleges and universities. If they came into contact with even one indigenous instructor, or filmmaker, or storyteller during their training, it would be surprising. They learned their skills while immersed in another culture.

    In 1999 the Board of TVNC and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) provided much needed support for the development of a new, accredited production program. It was to have highly skilled and experienced indigenous instructors and be geared to the realities and aspirations of the rapidly developing indigenous production and broadcasting industry.

    As the launch of APTN approached, GNWT agreed to second their representative on the Board of TVNC to coordinate the development and start-up of the training program, in consultation with the northern broadcasting organizations and “southern” indigenous production experts. An agreement was reached between TVNC, GNWT and Capilano College in North Vancouver. The college already had a flourishing “mainstream” production program and could provide the accreditation needed to enable students to access grant and loan programs. By the spring of 2000 the curriculum had been developed and the first offering of the new certificate program began in May of that year, with students coming from across Canada. All the instructors were indigenous.

    Over the next three years the program underwent further development, resulting in a two-year diploma program – the first of its kind in Canada.

    The film program started as the Aboriginal Film and Television Program and is now known as the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program. More recently, the IIDF program has undergone additional revisions. IIDF diploma graduates now have the option to apply and compete to enter 3rd year of the Motion Picture Arts degree program.