Fonds 302 - Northwest Territories. Department of Information fonds

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Northwest Territories. Department of Information fonds

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  • Multiple media

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  • [1964-1985] (Creation)
    Northwest Territories. Department of Information (1967-1985)

Physical description area

Physical description

2731 photographs and other material

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Administrative history

The Department of Information, initially known as Information Services, was organized in Ottawa in May of 1967. The department was re-established in Yellowknife under the direction of E. R. Horton with the transfer of the government in September 1967.

The Department of Information was responsible for informing residents of the Northwest Territories of the policies, programs and activities of the Government of the Northwest Territories, informing the public outside of the Territories about the north, and providing inter-governmental information systems. In addition, it was responsible for meeting the printing, translation, graphic design and publication needs of the Government of the Northwest Territories. By 1969, the Still Photo Library, a component of of the Information Services Department, had catalogued and indexed more than 1100 colour transparencies and 500 black and white negatives.

In 1970, the department was organized into two divisions: Publications and Public Relations. The Publications Division was involved in the research, writing, editing, and designing a variety of government publications, such as the Annual Report and newsletters; its Printing section, later known as the Printing Bureau, handled all Government of the Northwest Territories printing requirements either in-house or through the private sector. In 1979, the head of the Printing Bureau was appointed Territorial Printer and the responsibility for printing all new Northwest Territories ordinances was assumed from the Queen's Printer in 1980.

The Public Relations division, later renamed Public Affairs, was responsible for all public relations functions including press releases, films, slide shows, liaison with the press, escorting dignitaries, translation services and maintaining a photo library. In 1973, an Interpreter-Translator Corps was established within the Public Relations division to meet the needs of communications in the multi-lingual north. The Corps was to provide Dene and Inuit oral interpretation and written translation services for the GNWT, Council of the NWT and other groups and agencies. It also assisted with communications between aboriginal peoples and the government, hospitals, and courts. A radio program production centre was created to provide programming to community stations and prepare government information packages on topics such as the Northwest Territories Council, Home Management and Consumer Affairs. A review of Department of Information functions in 1976 indicated that regionalization of its programs was required. Interpreter-translators in each region became responsible for determining the communication needs within their region and providing programming ideas and materials. The Yellowknife headquarters acted as the service agency for the production of required programs. In 1982, the Interpreter-Translator Corps was reorganized into the Language Bureau to handle the priorities in language and culture activities as set by the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council. This function was a priority and money was redirected to the Language Bureau from other activities.

Another major initiative of the Department of Information was the Northern Communications Program established in 1978. The program provided the facilities for satellite-fed northern television and radio service to communities. Initially, facilities were provided for communities with populations between 250 and 500 people. These requirements were reduced to communities of 150 people in 1981 and then to communities with populations less than 150 people with an established power supply. By 1986, facilities existed in all qualifying communities. A grant program for operating costs was also offered to local radio stations providing native language programming.

The Department of Information produced a variety of public information brochures on topics such as the Dene, Inuit, canoeing, transportation, climate, flora, and fauna of the Northwest Territories. Poster series promoting the north were produced, as well as "The Traditional Life Series" consisting of prints of Dene and Inuit.

In 1985, the Government of the Northwest Territories consolidated cultural and communications related activities. The newly formed Department of Culture and Communications assumed the functions of the Department of Information.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of 2731 colour photographs in slide and print formats, 6 audio reels, 75 film reels, 10 umatic videocassettes, approximately 1.14 meters of textual material, 8 microfilm reels and 15 posters. The photographs depict communities throughout the Northwest Territories, indigenous animals, landmarks, Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites, Anglican and Catholic Missions, schools, Dene and Inuit peoples and landscapes. In addition, there are images of the 1978 Arctic Winter Games, Commissioner Hodgson's tour of the Northwest Territories in 1969 and photographs documenting the construction of a mooseskin boat at Fort Norman and the Keele River Camp in 1981. The textual material consists of a report on the Commissioner's Tours of the Upper Mackenzie, Nahanni and Liard River Area, Central Arctic and Western Arctic between 1969-1970, as well as a journal kept by Beryl Gillespie documenting the construction of the Mooseskin Boat Project that took place in 1981. The bulk of the textual material consists of files from the Central Registry and were from the following Central Registry blocks: Policy (11-000); Settlements (11-004); Tours (11-005); Publications (11-006) and Communications (11-012). There is also approximately 5.5 cm of newsletters, brochures and booklets on varied topics such as translation services, the NWT visual identity program, regional information (mostly the Keewatin region), an Analysis of the Dene Language Information Review, the Dene and Inuit Traditional Life Series, and 6 years of weekly Territorial bulletins (incomplete). The microfilm reels contain files from the Central Registry dated between 1970-1973 from the following program areas: Policy, Settlements, Publications, Public Relations and Miscellaneous (11 block) and from Conferences and Administration (13 block). There are also 10 umatic videocassettes and 19 film reels that document the Mooseskin Boat Project. The remaining 57 films (16 mm) document events in the Northwest Territories, such as the Commissioner's Tour of the Northwest Territories in 1969-1970, the 1970 Arctic Winter Games, Caribou Carnival in Yellowknife, Camp Unity and a CBC production about whaling in the north. The five sound reels provide audio for some of these films. The remaining material consists of 15 posters that represent images of the Northwest Territories, including wildlife and northern residents in both the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions.

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      Restrictions on access

      Access restricted under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

      Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

      Finding aids

      Finding aids in various formats available; see accessions for detail.

      Associated materials

      N-1979-032. Cook, Henry G., Bishop of the Diocese of the Arctic, 1906-
      N-1992-205. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation fonds.

      Related materials


      Physical description

      2731 photographs : col. slides and prints; 10 videocassettes : Umatic 15 posters; ca. 1.1 meters of textual material; 6 audio reels; 75 film reels : 16 mm; and 8 reels of microfilm.


      Copyright held by GNWT.

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      Language of description

      • English

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