Gathering covers first nations media

Tla’amin Nation women attend regional event focused on future of broadcasting

First nations media has followed step by step with self-government and subjects dealing with sensitive matters about truth and reconciliation. Two young Tla’amin Nation women want to be part of telling the stories of their community.

Rae-Dene Noble and Devin Pielle travelled to Homalco First Nation, near Campbell River, on Sunday, May 8, and Monday, May 9, to learn about first nations broadcast media. Noble, Pielle and local radio broadcaster Zoe Ludski attended a regional gathering on the future of first nations, Inuit and Métis broadcasting.

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The event included youth training workshops and presentations by representatives of first nations radio stations in Canada.

Homalco and Tla’amin nations share ancient history as sister nations, speak the same language and are very intertwined. Both communities are in the early stage of self-government and, according to Pielle, media is becoming more and more important as a means of communication between and about first nations people.

“Homalco is in the stages of getting its own radio station,” said Pielle. “It’s important to the Homalco people to know their backstory so they feel more confident in sharing and communicating through the new radio station.”

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission awarded the nation a radio licence in October 2016; it must be broadcasting by October 2017.

“There isn’t much of a voice in Homalco,” said Noble.

To coax that voice out, Noble, Pielle and Ludski took the Blanket Exercise, which encourages individual and community storytelling in an experiential and vulnerable way, to the conference. Participants tell the story of first nations people by interacting through movement and telling stories.

Noble and Pielle said they see a connection between media and the Blanket Exercise. Both use the power of the spoken word to tell the story of first nations prior to colonization, the shock of contact, assimilation and the legacy of residential schools, the protest movement, and truth and reconciliation.

“That is how the Blanket Exercise is done; to look back on how far we have come in our self-government,” said Noble. “The whole media thing is a stepping stone for youth in the community to become inspired, to get them thinking and focusing on different issues they want to cover.”

Through facilitating the Blanket Exercise, Pielle and Noble will have given something to Homalco and hope to return having learned more.

Pielle has broadcasting experience as co-producer of the documentary We Are Still Here, part of the Resonating Reconciliation program sponsored by National Campus and Community Radio Association. For Noble, media is an entirely new experience.

“I’m just getting into media, said Noble. “We’re trying to grow this circle to have independent women who are interested in changing first nations people’s rights and being active in protest.”

The story Noble wants to tell is about murdered and missing women.

“Being first nations, and all the first nations across Canada, we’re all as one,” said Noble. “I have family all over. There’s someone who has lost an auntie, a mother, so it’s something that’s really mutual.”

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