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Potential GNWT deal could bring CKLB back to life

The chairman of the Native Communications Society (NCS) of the NWT hopes a recent probable funding commitment breathes new life into CKLB.

The non-profit organization, which oversees the troubled Yellowknife-based radio station, held its annual general meeting last Friday.

There, JC Catholique says the NCS spoke with a representative from the department of education, culture and employment – who told them the GNWT is interested in forming a partnership.

“The meeting itself was good,” Catholique told Moose FM. “We were kind of on the verge of closing down the station because we weren’t getting our funding and a lot of proposals that we had written to the GNWT weren’t getting much of a response.

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“But when [ECE minister Jackson Lafferty’s] representative finished their presentation, it was really positive and a sense of hope that we could get the station up and running again.

“This is something that we’ve been working on throughout the year and we haven’t been given much of a response. We’ve really tried to get Aboriginal language broadcasting up and running again.”

Read: Loss Of CKLB Would Be Tragedy – Dennis Bevington

CKLB has been largely silent since going off-air last August because of federal funding cuts.

Listeners tuning into 101.9 FM will hear a reel of automated music and ads, but all Aboriginal language programming, news and interviews are absent.

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Catholique hopes staff and regular programming can be re-introduced as early as July if the NCS can secure new funding.

“I think it’s a lot better to start slow, maybe with one announcer broadcasting, and then when the money comes in we can add more people as we go along,” he said.

“I’m not sure if we’re going to bring the same people back but we’ll hire people who are fluent in the languages and people who are good storytellers.”

Catholique says it’s important that funding get figured out sooner rather than later, so that the “Voice of Denendeh” can return to the airwaves.

“We had our AGM on Friday and we said, ‘we can start Monday morning, we’re ready to go.’ The work has begun already.

“A lot of people have missed the radio station because we broadcasted in all the Dene languages and people miss that. They miss hearing the language.

“It’s something that we’ve been doing for a lot of years and all of a sudden it’s not there anymore so people miss it.”

If and when live programming returns to CKLB, Catholique says management will look at ways to generate more money through advertising and fundraising.

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