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Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation receives CRTC approval

Richard Perry, CFPQ manager, chats with community member Stephanie Pictou in the room that will serve as the studio for the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation radio station. The community recently received CRTC approval for an FM broadcast license. Corey LeBlanc
Richard Perry, CFPQ manager, chats with community member Stephanie Pictou in the room that will serve as the studio for the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation radio station. The community recently received CRTC approval for an FM broadcast license. Corey LeBlanc - Corey LeBlanc

CFPQ radio to launch sometime this year

CFPQ 104.5 will soon hit the airwaves in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation.    

The First Nation community in Antigonish County recently received CRTC approval for an FM broadcast license.    

“We are really excited – there is great potential,” Paqtnkek communications advisor Richard Perry said.    

When he announced the milestone earlier this month, he added, social media “lit up” with positive responses from the community.    

The veteran radio and television broadcaster, who will serve as temporary station manager, has provided his expertise throughout the application process.    

Perry reflected on receiving word of CRTC approval in early April, the culmination of an 18-month process he helped the Paqtnkek Radio Society – a non-profit that is governed by a board of directors made up of community members – navigate.    

“I have always been interested in radio,” he said, while sitting in the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation entertainment centre security office, a room that will become CFPQ’s studio.    

That transition will take place as part of the development of a community elders’ centre, after the entertainment centre moves to its new location as part of the Bayside Travel Centre.   

Perry decided he wanted to share that passion with the people of Paqtnkek.    

After hearing stories about other First Nations communities launching radio stations, such as Potlotek and Membertou, he contacted representatives to talk about establishing their initiatives.    

“I also started to gauge interest here,” Perry said.    

He pitched the idea to Chief P.J. Prosper, band councillors and staff, before casting the net more widely, via Facebook and Twitter, in the community.    

“There was a lot of interest,” he added.    

Perry noted, as outlined in their CRTC application, 18 community members – of all ages – asked to become volunteers on the day Paqtnkek officials announced they would seek an FM broadcast license, including one young man who was entering the Radio and Television Arts program at the Nova Scotia Community College.    

There was also the community elder who envisioned radio as a way in which to share the Mi’kmaw language, while Paqtnkek’s health director talked about the possibilities, when it comes to sharing vital community information about nutrition, diabetes and addiction services.    

Not to mention the teenaged drummers and singers, who can hardly wait to record programs and broadcast live.    

“I can’t wait to see kids come in here,” Perry said, noting they may discover a career path through these radio opportunities.    

He described broadcasting as a “perfect outlet” for young people.    

“We also see this application as a concrete step toward meeting several of the key recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation final report, which calls for new and creative platforms to help with the healing process around residential schools,” the station proponents wrote in the community’s application.    

It adds “engaging youth is critical to this process.”

‘Honouring culture’    

Paqntkek’s slogan Kepmite’tmu’kw Ta’n Weni’kw – or ‘honouring culture’ – will be a key focus for CFPQ 104.5.    

“It is in this spirit that we believe a volunteer-run community radio station can enhance our unique Indigenous forms of art, poetry, dance and music,” the community’s CRTC application reads.    

As for what listeners will hear, Perry predicted programming will be “pretty eclectic.”    

He estimated popular music will make up one-third of the playlist, while country and reggae – genres drawing strong interest from residents in Facebook and Twitter polls – will be prominent.    

“And, of course, there will be a strong presence of modern Indigenous music and powwow performances,” Perry noted.    

He added one of the focuses for the radio station will be “to provide a platform to celebrate those artists.”    

“That was a big part of it,” Perry said, when asked about the importance of sharing the Mi’kmaw language as a key to applying for the license.    

CFPQ 104.5 will also fulfill the CRTC’s requirement to broadcast at least 35 per cent Canadian content.    

A portion of programming, as with most stations, will be automated.    

Describing community members as “natural born storytellers,” Perry said having a radio station provides “a modern extension for sharing their rich history and culture.”    

When it comes to who will play those tunes and provide the ‘voice’ of the radio station, Perry said it will be “volunteer driven.”    

He noted there will be training sessions for community members interested in pitching in, whether on air or behind the scenes, including ones required as part of receiving CRTC approval.    

Although mainly staffed by volunteers, Perry hopes there will be financial means to hire a weekday morning announcer.

Great support    

“It is really cool,” Perry said, when asked about the early support for the initiative, including financial, not only from Paqtnkek, but also the broader community.    

To illustrate, he gestured towards a pair of office chairs in the soon-to-be studio, a contribution from Antigonish Staples, while CBC Nova Scotia in Halifax has donated an audio amplifier and cables.    

There is also a SAGE ENDEC emergency decoder from the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia, while Perry has provided four professional Zoom and Tascam audio recorders for mobile recording.    

Along with Paqtnkek’s band council, there have been financial contributions from Sobey’s Inc., Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Hatch Engineering and Grant Thornton LLP of  Sydney.    

There has also been a private donation from a community member from neighbouring Bayfield, Antigonish County, which financed the purchase of a studio sound board.    

Perry said he and the society continue to explore grant options, including ones aimed at specific programming.    

As for the launch date for CFPQ 104.5, he estimated “within six months,” noting that includes a three-month period where Industry Canada will be testing signal capability.    

And, what about the radio’s station slogan – besides its call letters and frequency.    

“We are going to leave that up to people in the community,” Perry said.    

There will be a contest or survey of some sort to gather feedback for that selection.

               

               

               

               

    As for the name – other than the call letters – Perry said community members will make that decision.

One of the goals is to provide an FM radio to every household and office in the community.

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