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Loss of CKLB would be tragedy – Dennis Bevington

Northwest Territories MP Dennis Bevington says losing Yellowknife-based radio station CKLB would be a ‘tragedy’.

The station may be forced to close following a protracted dispute over funding.

Directors at the NWT’s Native Communications Society, which runs the station, will now meet to decide on CKLB’s future.

The station has offered barely any local programming since July 2014, when most staff were laid off amid the funding crisis, and has cut its Aboriginal-language broadcasting.

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CKLB has reportedly received $464,000 in federal funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage since it shut down most of its operations, plus an additional $102,500 from the territorial government.

However, station director Deneze Nakehk’o says much of that money arrived later than expected, and is being used to cover past expenses – like bills, building and equipment maintenance and staff wages – rather than future programming.

“The funding was late and we had no idea when it would come, and it set us back when dealing with the banks and in paying our bills,” Nakehk’o told the Northern Journal.

CKLB says Canadian Heritage has unfairly delayed and withheld funding over bureaucratic issues, creating an inconsistent stream of funds that has placed the station in jeopardy.

Bevington, the New Democrat MP for the Northwest Territories, says he has spent months trying to help the radio station, but the federal government has been unwilling to cooperate.

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“What’s happening is a tragedy which needs to be fixed and my tools are limited,” Bevington told the CBC on Wednesday.

“We tried very hard to work with the government, but it’s at a point now where we’re going to lose something that intrinsically has value to people of the North and that’s really, really unfortunate.

“We may lose a very valuable communications tool and support for Aboriginal languages. Preserving Aboriginal languages has to be a priority not only of northerners, but also of the federal government.”

Photo: CambridgeBayWeather/Wikimedia.

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