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Background
An Example of Testimony at CRTC Hearings
For a Calgary Licence

0. Introduction of the AVR panel

Greetings. Mister Chair, Members of the Commission, Commission Staff, members of the Public. We are honoured to appear before you today to speak on behalf of Aboriginal Voices Radio, a non-profit Aboriginal organization with membership from all regions of Canada.

Tehaliwaskenhas - (Oneida spoken here)
My name is Bob Kennedy. I am a member of the Oneida Nation and a member of the founding Board of Directors of Aboriginal Voices Radio.

Before we begin our opening remarks, we wish to honour and recognize the people of Treaty 7, upon whose traditional territory we meet today. Also, we would like to thank elder Rod Hunter Senior who performed a spiritual ceremony for us this morning, to guide us and provide us with strength and support.

We will now introduce ourselves.

Good afternoon members of the Commission, I am Marilyn Buffalo, a member of the Samson Cree Nation.(Cree spoken here)
I have just completed a three year term as President of the Native Women's Association of Canada. I have acted as a native affairs advisor at the University of Alberta, and as a Policy Advisor to the Assembly of First Nations. I have thirty years of community development experience in rural, urban and northern isolated communities.

(Cayuga/Mohawk spoken here)
My name is Gary Farmer. I am Speaker of the AVR Board, an actor, radio and television producer, and long-time worker in the development of Native broadcasting.

(Nakoda Sioux spoken here)
Good afternoon, I am Margaret Rider, a radio broadcaster from the Nakota Nation in Morley, a community just west of Calgary.

(Blackfoot spoken here)-
Hi. I am Redmond Littlechief of the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth, the only independent Aboriginal youth council in Canada. I also sit on the Calgary Mayor's Advisory Board.

Good afternoon Members of the Commission, I am Mark MacLeod, AVR's Director of Licensing & Development. I have previously had the privilege of serving as head of national community radio associations in both Canada and the US.

(NOTE: Leon was unable to attend)
My name is Leon Anthony. I am an independent Alberta radio and television producer. I am heavily involved with media training for Aboriginal youth, and produce the APTN weekly program Saturday Night at the Rising Sun Cafe.

My name is Michele Thrush. I am an actress living in the Calgary area, and I keep very active in the Calgary arts community.

Hello, my name is Tom Horvath. I am an Ojibway from Ontario, but I have lived in Calgary for 15 years. I am the producer and host of "Beyond Beads and Feathers", currently the only radio program in Calgary dedicated to Aboriginal programming.

(Kennedy)
Members of the Commission, I would also like to take a moment introduce others in the room today, including:

Shane Breaker of Siksika Nation Communications. The Siksika community has a non-appearing low-power application at this hearing.

Peter Doering of Peter Doering Consultants. He is our Market Research Consultant

John Matthews is our Director of Engineering, and

Bob Templeton is President of NewCap Broadcasting, AVR's broadcasting partner.

I would now like to ask Gary Farmer to begin our opening remarks.

1. Introduction of the Presentation

(Gary Farmer)

Good morning members of the Commission. We are pleased to appear before you once again. We are here today to talk about the need for a new radio service in Calgary, and to outline our proposal to meet that need.

In our presentation:

we will tell you of Calgary's need for an Aboriginal radio service,

you will hear about our plan for a radio service designed to fulfill this need,

we will describe our business plan for urban Aboriginal radio to Calgary, and

highlight the talented and experienced people who have joined us in that goal.

For Calgary, this will be a new station offering new music, new news, and

most importantly new voices.

 

2. Need for the proposed service

(Tom Horvath)

Members of the Commission, the station we propose will be a first radio service for Calgary's estimated 40,000 Aboriginal people.

Calgary does not have an Aboriginal radio station. Currently, I produce Calgary's only weekly half hour of Aboriginal radio programming, on CJSW-FM at the University of Calgary. Unfortunately, a lack of aboriginal programming is common in major cities across Canada. AVR has surveyed the listening habits of urban Native people, and more than half said they seek out that single hour or two available to them.

My program gets a tremendous community response, despite the fact that it is not always convenient to tune in for the only half hour a week I'm on the air. If you're not careful you will miss it!

There are more than a dozen radio services received in the Calgary market, yet there isn't one to reflect Aboriginal culture. That means that, of the roughly 2000 hours of radio programming available each week in Calgary, my show is the only 30 minutes of programming with a consistent Aboriginal focus.

Not a single station, and only 30 minutes of more than 2000 hours

I sit with the Aboriginal Voices Radio team today because I know there is an audience in Calgary for our programming.

 

 

(Michele Thrush)

Members of the Commission, AVR clearly has a passion to communicate, a passion for radio. But is there an audience?

AVR has used a variety of techniques including market research, focus groups, and broad community consultation to identify the expressed needs of Aboriginal communities. That research is the foundation for our programming and business plans. Meeting the expressed needs of the community - that is the wellspring of our passion.

AVR?s market research in major cities across Canada has shown that 9 in 10 Canadians believe there is a need for a national aboriginal radio service. The same percentages support the goals AVR has for its proposed service. In Calgary, the research found that support to be 91%.

In keeping with our traditions, AVR came to Calgary to present the network concept, to ensure it was wanted, and to shape it to fit our community needs. At a public community meeting, and in many individual audiences, the response was without exception, warm and welcoming.

AVR is well aware of the number of needs in the Calgary community. Over the last three decades, a wide variety of reports from various levels of government, including the comprehensive Royal Commission report, have detailed the loss in Canadian culture due to the absence of Aboriginal media. The report also set out the expected benefits for both Aboriginal Canadians and the general public from the development of Aboriginal media.

The Assembly of First Nations specifically supports the effort to establish Aboriginal radio services in Canadian urban centers The Minister for Indian Affairs, Robert Nault has prioritized improved communications as the key to the successful resolution of outstanding issues between Native and non-Native peoples.

The Federal government, in partnership with Aboriginal leadership, has recognized the magnitude of the crisis. A number of major joint initiatives are underway with a focus on developing and supporting healthier urban Aboriginal communities.

Communication is a vital component of these new initiatives, and the free and accessible medium of radio is a key to a restoration of culture. Radio can support improvements in community health and reductions in substance abuse and suicide. It is not an overstatement that a radio service in Calgary will save lives.

(Redmond Littlechief)

Members of the Commission, we all recognize that living in an urban community is stressful. Radio can provide the connection we all need to overcome the isolation and alienation of city life. Urban Aboriginal people are in the process of restoring and reclaiming our communities through personal and collective healing journeys.

With radio, we can reach out to promote each others efforts in the struggle for healthier communities.

With radio, we can build a better understanding between Aboriginal people and all Canadians, and

With radio, we can promote positive Aboriginal role models, especially to our young people.

Radio radio respects Aboriginal oral tradition, and allows sharing the wealth of indigenous knowledge, culture and values. Radio is a natural fit for us.

Radio brings Aboriginal people into the discourse which will shape the future of all our lives.

Calgary is a cosmopolitan city, and a gathering place for people from many regions and backgrounds. Aboriginal people are a vital part of the city's cultural and civic life. The population of Calgary is growing quickly, and its Aboriginal community is growing even faster.

While Aboriginal people in Calgary have expressed a strong interest in the new station, our market survey shows an overwhelmingly favourable response beyond the Native community. Our programming includes and welcomes all people, and is an offering to all of Calgary.

Think of AVR as the radio service of Aboriginal people, for all people.
 

 

3. The vision for a Calgary radio service

(Marilyn Buffalo)

Commissioners, we want you to understand our national vision, and the role our Calgary radio service will play in it.

We envisage a full 24 hour national network which will deliver programming from an Aboriginal perspective, from our Toronto flagship to our Calgary station. This national feed will include contributions and perspectives from Aboriginal people across Canada.

Our network's national programming menu will be similar to the CBC's multi-format offerings to its national listeners. Just as the CBC national schedule is supplemented by local programming, AVRN will offer increasing local programming as resources become available. We will establish a Calgary Media Advisory Circle to provide local guidance, and to make our national programming responsive to Calgary's needs.

The development of Calgary-based programming will begin with locally-produced segments such as special event programming that will be carried in the national schedule. This experience will cultivate the local talent and organization needed to present consistent high quality, weekly and daily local Calgary programming.

AVR will support local efforts to nurture and provide training in order to ensure that high quality local programming is introduced when it is ready. This cautious approach will ensure a financially stable vehicle for the future local programming, while we can, at the same time, be sure that local programming is under local direction and responsive to the needs of its audience.

4. Description of programming

(Bob Kennedy)

Calgary's Aboriginal community includes many languages and cultures. AVR programming will be primarily in English, with regular inclusion of many of Canada's 53 Native languages, as well as in French, Spanish and other languages.

Many Aboriginal languages and cultures remain in great danger of extinction. AVR programming will support the preservation of Aboriginal languages in this emergency situation. Every program will support and promote Aboriginal cultures and traditions.

The network programming schedule will include full Aboriginal news reports, national phone-in programs, a women's round table discussion, focus programs on language, youth, elders, health, and many other areas.

News assignments will focus on events which impact Canada's Aboriginal communities, and that have been overlooked and under-reported by other news sources. AVR will also air spoken word programming which features in-depth exploration of public or community current affairs.

As resources become available, 1 - 2 Calgary journalists or producers will be hired to staff a local Aboriginal news bureau to provide enhanced local coverage.

Arts programming will be an important of our programming. We will create a comfortable place for our stories to be told, through dramas, radio plays, and storytelling.

 

(Margaret Rider)

Members of the Commission, AVR music programming will feature a mix of primarily Canadian and world Aboriginal artists in a broad range of musical styles, with program hosts providing informed commentary, information on the artists presented, and a variety of educational and entertaining Canadian Aboriginal perspectives on issues of the day.

While the new radio service will bring an Aboriginal world of programming to Calgary, the vibrant local community in Calgary will make vital contributions to the programming service they hear.

Open line programs will include the participation of Calgary listeners.

Listeners can make music requests by telephone or Internet.

News reports, interviews, and other segments will allow elders, youth, women and men of Calgary's various Nations and cultures to share their voices.

This new national programming perspective will allow current events and cultural affairs taking place in other regions of the country to be better understood in Calgary, without the filter of mainstream media. Of course, the new service will also provide the opportunity for local Calgary regional issues to be examined in the context of a national perspective for listeners in Calgary and elsewhere.

 

5. The AVR Business Plan

(Gary Farmer)

Members of the Commission, our market research has demonstrated demand in Calgary for our proposed service.

We took a very conservative approach in using this demand to forecast how much national advertising revenue could be generated by adding Calgary to the existing network. Our revenue projections far exceed the modest operating costs.

A network consisting of at least Toronto and Calgary stations will be on a sound financial footing, with great potential advertising revenue growth, and less reliance on program underwriting and fundraising.

We have strong support in Calgary for a pre-launch campaign to offset all of the station's capital and start up costs. These costs total less than a quarter of our current one million dollar Reserve Fund, which was created to cover unforeseen shortfalls in funding AVR's development.

The Calgary service is not expensive to establish and operate because we plan to introduce local programming only later after network revenues have expanded and stabilized.

 

6. AVR's Available Expertise

(Leon Anthony)

Members of the Commission, AVR has a solid business plan, and the financial and people resources to back it up. AVR is continuing to expand its Board and recruit additional advisors to have the widest possible depth and breadth of expertise.

Our legal counsel, Aird & Berlis are working closely to review all legal implications of our national development plans, and our accounting firm KPMG have specialized experience in broadcasting and Aboriginal business issues. Our Directors and Advisory Circle come from all across Canada, and represent years of expertise in all areas of broadcasting.

In addition to these resources, AVR seeks the spiritual guidance of our elders, and the approval of all our communities.

The AVR radio team has produced and distributed radio shows to native stations and networks across North America. We have produced concerts, an arts festival, webcasts, and 24 hour a day special event broadcasting in Toronto. 3 years of outreach to the community have shaped our vision for an Aboriginal Radio service.

 

7. A national roll out plan

Earlier this year, the Commission awarded AVR an FM radio licence in Toronto. AVR has submitted an application in Vancouver for a radio service like the one we propose for Calgary, and AVR's application for the AVRN national radio network is a non-appearing item at this hearing

This Calgary application represents the next step of AVR's plan to spearhead the rapid advancement of Aboriginal broadcasting in Canada, especially in urban centers in Southern Canada, where Aboriginal voices are seldom heard on the airwaves. Despite years of supportive CRTC policies, this deplorable situation exists in contrast to the clearly stated objectives of the Broadcast Act.

Just as the arrival of the AVRN service in Calgary will greatly benefit Calgary listeners, the launch of the Calgary service will play a key role in the development of the national Aboriginal radio service right across Canada.

AVRN will not duplicate existing Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal services but, rather, provide a supplementary and supporting service; complementing and building on radio services which presently exist in the Canadian broadcasting system. This will provide a new type of support for Native broadcasters, particularly those who are ambitious to provide a full schedule of Native programming, but are simply unable to secure the necessary resources.

AVRN will work closely, and share programming with, these existing Native broadcasters including the various Native radio networks and societies which operate in Northern and rural Canada, as well as other urban Aboriginal broadcasters who produce programming for university based radio stations.

8. Conclusion

(Gary Farmer)

Commissioners, Calgary needs a new Aboriginal radio voice.

We need this voice to overcome ignorance of our history, and of the Canadian Aboriginal experience.

We need this voice to offer positive role models and to balance negative media stereotypes.

We need this voice to build greater understanding between Aboriginal people and

other Canadians.

And most importantly, we need this voice in the struggle for healthy communities.

Members of the Commission, today, finally, we have the opportunity to license a new and unique Aboriginal radio service in Calgary.

We have highlighted for you our plans for a programming service which includes seven lofty and ambitious goals:

to be the first Calgary outlet for the broad everyday expression of Aboriginal voices

to offer a media venue where Native & non-Native Canadians can speak as neighbours

to be an inclusive radio service for all voices: women & men, elders & youth

to be a means of support for the promotion of Aboriginal language & culture

to provide exposure and promotion for Aboriginal artists and entrepreneurs

to operate with respect for the principles of environmental sustainability, and

to remain a Native controlled and operated media, not dependent on government

These are compelling objectives for a radio service.

Members of the Commission, all the necessary elements have come together in this time and at this place.

· We have clearly identified demand in Calgary for a new urban Aboriginal service, and we have carefully shaped our programming service to meet this demand.

· We have found a passion amongst Aboriginal people in Calgary to share their wealth of indigenous knowledge, culture and positive values, and yet there is no current Calgary radio service upon which we might hear their voices.

We have proposed a sustainable business plan which includes sufficient capital funding, and we have put together an experienced, confident, and knowledgeable team.

We have reached the moment where we have the opportunity to finally include a national Aboriginal radio voice in the Canadian Broadcast system.

Commission members, the time has come for an Aboriginal radio voice in Calgary.

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