The Department of Culture and Communications formed in 1985 with the reorganization of the former Department of Information and the addition of the Museums and Heritage Division and Public Library Services, which were transferred from the former Department of Justice and Public Services.
The Department of Culture and Communications was responsible for preserving, promoting and developing northern culture, improving broadcast communications and availability of information, as well as, strengthening national and international understanding of the Northwest Territories. The department provided printing, graphic design, publishing, audio-visual and language services, such as interpreting and translating to the Government of the Northwest Territories. It delivered public programs such as library services, museum services, a cultural affairs program and offered grants in support of cultural activities through various divisions. The department assisted in providing radio and television services to communities and supported regional native communications societies that delivered culturally relevant radio and television programming to the north.
The Directorate Division operated between 1986-1992. It was responsible for the management of the department, development of policies, the direction of public affairs and provided administrative and financial services. It also advised the Executive Council on public relations matters.
The Public Affairs Division operated between 1986-1989 and was responsible for Government of the Northwest Territories public affairs programming, assisting clients in communications programs and providing services to the public through news releases.
The Publications and Production Division was responsible for meeting the graphic design and the publishing needs of the Government of the Northwest Territories through in-house or commercial activities. The division printed and produced a variety of publications including annual reports, the Northwest Territories Gazette, legislation, newsletters and booklets on various government programs and services. The responsibilities of Publication and Production included audio-visual services such as the production and distribution of video programs about the government in native languages. This division was transferred to Government Services and Public Works in August 1992.
The Language Bureau provided interpretation, translation and other communications services to the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Legislative Assembly in all official languages of the Northwest Territories, except Cree. This division included both an aboriginal language and French language section.
The Museums/Heritage Division transferred to Culture and Communications from the Department of Justice and Public Services in 1986. The Museums/Heritage activity was responsible for collecting, preserving, researching, documenting and presenting the cultural and natural history of the Northwest Territories. This function was achieved through museum and archival programs at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and the Northwest Territories Archives, as well as through the provision of advice, technical support and financial contributions supporting community heritage projects. Other territorial programs administered by the activity included archaeological resource management and geographic name research program that had been transferred from the Executive Department into the Museum Division in 1986.
Library Services were also transferred to Culture and Communications from the Department of Justice and Public Services in 1986. The Library Services division provided some financial assistance to community libraries and maintained the government library, which collected Federal and Territorial Publications, reference material and books in the area of public policy. A grants and contributions program, delivered through Library Services provided funding to municipal councils for the operation of library programs, as well as the training of local staff thorough regional and distance education courses. The Government Library was transferred to the Legislative Assembly in 1992 when Public Library Services became part of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.
The Cultural Affairs Division operated between 1986-1989; this division supported, promoted and enhanced cultural diversity and the arts in the Northwest Territories. This task was accomplished through the distribution of grants and contributions, research, consultation and the development of policy and legislation. Cultural Affairs also provided administrative services and professional advice to the Northwest Territories Arts Council.
The Northern Communications Program was responsible for maintaining satellite receiving and transmitting equipment and providing CBC radio and television services to the communities of the Northwest Territories. This program evolved into the Audiovisual Section in 1989 and then into the Television and Radio Services Division that operated between 1990-91. Responsibilities included researching and developing the options for GNWT membership in Television Northern Canada (TVNC), which began broadcasting in 1992, as well as the handling of video/film production and distribution needs of the GNWT. This division also provided contributions to community broadcasting societies and regional native communications societies to support the production and broadcast of culturally relevant radio and TV programming in aboriginal languages. The division contributed to the three major regional aboriginal communications groups; Inuit Broadcasting Company, Native Communications Society of the Western Arctic and Inuvialuit Broadcasting Society. Television and Radio Services was also responsible for the maintenance of television and radio facilities in 27 small communities throughout the Northwest Territories.
In August of 1992, the Department of Culture and Communications was combined with the Department of Education, to form the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.