Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jennifer David, "Aboriginal language broadcasting in Canada," for APTN by Debwe Communications, November 2004. (pdf, 45pp)

from the "Executive Summary"


The Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures was established in 2002 by the then Minister of Canadian Heritage, Sheila Copps. It was created as part of an initiative to revitalize and promote Aboriginal languages and cultures. A three-phase action plan was developed, with funding of $172.5 M over 11 years. The first phase is a continuation of the Aboriginal Languages Initiative. The establishment of the Task Force is the second phase.

The ten members of the Task Force are responsible for developing recommendations to guide the creation of a new Aboriginal Languages and Cultures Centre, which will
represent the third phase of the initiative. To support development of these
recommendations, the Task Force has been holding consultations, listening to
presentations, and commissioning research reports.

The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) was asked to prepare an analysis of the role of Aboriginal language broadcasting in the revitalization of Aboriginal languages across Canada. Jennifer David of Debwe Communications Inc. was contracted to prepare the report, based on documents reviews, analysis and interviews, for submission by APTN to the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures.

Summary of Key Issues

Broadcasting has a vital role to play in the revitalization and survival of Aboriginal languages. This, however, is often an overlooked area of language learning, and much more research must be done to quantitatively confirm the positive impact of broadcasting on language use and fluency.

There is no significant legislative protection for Aboriginal language broadcasting, rendering long-term planning impossible, engendering a sense of "second class citizens" among broadcasters, and, in some cases, denying Aboriginal broadcasters the opportunity to provide quality programming.

Some Government support exists for northern Aboriginal communications societies, under the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP). There are, however, other radio stations outside this umbrella that provide a valuable service in Aboriginal languages, but are not provided with adequate financial support.

Many radio stations are unable to conclusively identify the needs of their listeners. Most cannot afford to conduct meaningful audience surveys that could lead to more appropriate and successful programming and help establish corporate policies regarding Aboriginal language programming.

While the majority of Aboriginal language speakers are older, there are efforts to encourage more Aboriginal youth to speak their language. These youth are largely unaware of the opportunities for full time employment and a lifelong career that exist in Aboriginal Language Broadcasting In Canada broadcasting industry, a sector where fluency in an Aboriginal language is an important asset.

Broadcasters represent an important cultural and historical resource of archival information, including interviews with elders and several generations of political leadership, and discussions about and in various Aboriginal languages. Most radio stations and television producers are unable to keep and catalogue this valuable and irreplaceable asset, and it is slowly being lost to future generations.

Aboriginal language broadcasting has wide-reaching appeal, and attracts growing Aboriginal and mainstream audiences across Canada and internationally. The potential of both radio and TV, however, has not yet been fully tapped. Tapes of shows or CD’s of language interviews, for example, are not being widely used in other contexts to assist in revitalizing Aboriginal languages. There are some exceptions to this; but generally, Aboriginal media represent a sadly under-utilized resource for language learning.

There is currently no organization or association that would enable all Aboriginal broadcasters to meet, network and find common ground to address common issues. There is no national voice for Aboriginal broadcasters, nor is there any mechanism by which the broadcasters could work together on joint research projects or undertake valuable surveys. Such an association would be beneficial for Aboriginal-language initiatives.

Read the report, including recommendations, here =>
Recommend this Post

Sphere: Related Content