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Northern Radio Big Hit

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1972      v03 n01 p06  
Thompson, Manitoba - Retailers in eight isolated northern Manitoba communities say their complete stock of radios has been sold within the last few weeks because of a radio broadcast from CHIM in Thompson.

Chief Nelson Linklater of the Nelson House Indian Band says that at 7:30 each night, five nights a week, the entire community shuts down as people huddle around their radios to hear the half-hour program.

Similar reports have been received from South Indian Lake and Cross Lake.

Chief Linklater says: "We are all very interested. Before we used to hear the news but we did not understand it."

The reason for the excitement is Manitoba's first all-Cree regular radio broadcast.

Murray McKenzie, managing editor of Native Communications Incorporated, which is responsible for the new series, says 20 broadcasts have been made from the radio station in an effort to link the people living in small isolated settlements, on trap lines and at fish camps with the outside world.

For these people, he says, the radio is their only contact.

Native Communications evolved from repeated appeals by the native people to the provincial government to have some broadcast in their own language. It was discovered during the Centennial Royal Visit last year that many people living in remote parts of Manitoba did not understand radio broadcasts of the event in English.

Following a number of meetings with native leaders, Canadian Broadcasting officials and the Manitoba Government, the Corporation was established and given an operating grant of 40 thousand dollars.

Mr. McKenzie says: "The aim of these programs is not entertainment but give information relevant to people living in remote areas in their own language."

The broadcasts have given weather warnings to trappers, information on land administration, an explanation of the employment and relocation program in the Thompson mining industry and news of business opportunities in Cross Lake.

Chief Linklater, who has appeared on some of the programs, says the entertainment angle is not completely ignored. Music groups from Nelson House and Pikwitonei have been taped for the program.

Old Indian legends have also been broadcast by 8-year old Annie Moose of South Indian Lake.

Mr. McKenzie says he hopes programs of this type will give the Manitoba Indian peoples their due sense of pride and confidence.