Jonah Kelly

You could call Jonah Kelly the ‘Voice of the Arctic.’ After working on-air for more than 35 years for CBC North, he’s definitely earned the title. During his lengthy and distinguished career, Mr. Kelly proved to be instrumental in the development and evolution of Inuktitut broadcasting in the North. Very early on, he recognized the powerful role broadcasting could play in keeping the Inuit people strong and in touch with one another. His firsts in Northern broadcasting are legend: Mr. Kelly inaugurated the first Inuktitut coverage of the NWT Legislative Assembly; was appointed the broadcaster’s Senior Eskimo Language Programmer in 1974; and developed CBC North’s flagship Inuktitut program, Tausunni, in 1978. His former colleague Whit Fraser remembers Mr. Kelly on the air during that terrible day in 1968 when Martin Luther King was shot. “Jonah produced and performed one of the most amazing radio programs I have ever heard,” Fraser said. “He was a one-man band working with the most basic tools available. In a voice that matched the passion and timber of King’s great I Have a Dream speech, Jonah Mr. Kelly, related the plight of blacks in the US to the growing colonizing inequalities emerging in the Canadian North.” When he was starting out at CBC, Mr. Kelly – and his listeners – soon discovered he had the necessary skills to bridge the new and old ways. While reporting on the Apollo moon landings, he compared them with traditional legends which were quite similar. A unique – and very successful – style was born. A whole generation of Inuit broadcasters has followed in Mr. Kelly’s footsteps.