Vinnie Karetak

Vinnie Karetak is what you would call a real jack of all spades. Karetak has been living in Iqaluit, Nunavut, for almost 19 years, and works as a writer, producer, actor, and in theatre just to name a few.

Before living in Iqaluit, Karetak lived in Rankin Inlet working for the federal government then moved on after that to be a TV reporter for CBC. Eventually he became a director of communications for a regional Inuit Association.

For many people, they would assume Karetak went to school to do all these different job positions — but he says his education for what he does was informal.

“It was on the training as I went. But for other things, even journalism, I was a reporter for CBC. It was on the job training, so there’s nothing I can say that I took this course to take this job. So in almost everything I did,” said Karetak.

When it comes to leaving your home community, Karetak says don’t do it just for the sake of leaving town but for the purpose to do something.

Image for post
Illustration by Kailey Sheppard

For him, he did Canada World Youth right out of high school and did some work before deciding that going to Nunavut was something he wanted to do, and opened up a few things for him.

“An appreciation for understanding Inuit history and politics and which eventually led me to my appreciation for governance,” said Karetak.

But even thought he has been successful it doesn’t mean there haven’t been obstacles for him. For him, he says one of them would be he doesn’t have a degree in any particular subject “or any real training,” and thinks the way he did things was “backwards.”

“[I] Was jump into acting in front of the camera and then learning how to act in front of a camera afterwards,” said Karetak. He mentions things got better though, eventually learning to produce on their own.

“It eventually grew enough so that we could run our own business and write our own stuff and produce our own stuff. And then get help where we needed,” said Karetak.

“All of us had a different strengths when we were doing that and recognizing each other’s abilities and respecting it was one of the greatest things I think we could have done for ourselves. Sometimes trying to take on too much could be overwhelming.”

If there were one thing he could tell his younger self, it would be to learn how to ask for help when you don’t know what you’re doing and thinks it will help improve the communication.

“In my case, I have an idea of how things are supposed to be and expecting it to be like that. And then it doesn’t turn out to be like that because maybe I didn’t know how to do it or just thought automatically to work out like that.”

He says understanding things aren’t always how it goes is important and that other people will have input on work as well. But he says being able to take credit for what you do is something people should “be able” to do.

“For a long time I thought the only reason why I did well in this thing, or that thing was because someone else did this thing or that thing. And I was just going along for the ride,” said Karetak.

He says learning to accept his roles in things he does has made it easier for him to want to try other things, such as applying for funding to do his own short film.

Karetak’s inspiration comes from the successful storytelling Inuit have done in theatre, movies, and TV shows, and having the want and the need to tell these stories for themselves and not other people.

“We like what we’ve done and having the opportunity to try and do that more often would give us… It gives me purpose and hopefully it gives others a chance for others to be inspired.”

Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.

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