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The SIMC is incorporated as a non-profit corporation and will reestablish the communications pioneered by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Communications Program.
The Saskatchewan Indian Media Corporation currently has a volunteer board, but as the program develops, a permanent board structure will be put in place.
To develop the new communications corporation, it is necessary to review what the FSIN developed over the years and what exists at present.
The "Saskatchewan Indian" began with one staff member and was published monthly in a tabloid format. Moccasin Telegraph began on CKBI radio in Prince Albert and was prepared in the CKBI station using volunteer and FSIN staff.
In 1971, funding was secured and the FSIN hired full time staff including an editor and a team of local reporters located in the districts. The Saskatchewan Indian was published as a monthly tabloid newspaper until 1973 when it was switched to magazine format.
The radio program expanded to a series of half-hour programs aired on CKBI Prince Albert, CKRM Regina, CJNB North Battleford, CJGX Yorkton, CKSW Swift Current, and CFAR Flin Flon, Manitoba. The program shared the same format, but were localized to offset the difference of the target audiences.
The FSIN Communications Program was well-received and the Indian public was informed as to the activities of the FSIN and the Indian community generally.
'The funding for the Communications Program originally came from the Human Resources Development Agency (HRDA) Program which was later moved to the provincial Indian and Metis Program. While the Federal government had funding for communications programs, it was only released to "non-political" organizations who served all "native" groups, criteria that the FSIN failed to meet.
In 1982, all provincial funding was cut to the FSIN. Included was the funding for the communications program. The result was that the FSIN shut down the communications program and except for a few issues, the "Saskatchewan Indian" there has been no Indian media for the past five years.
In spite of the loss of funding and
Over the intervening years, several issues of the "Saskatchewan Indian" were produced so the magazine could remain a reality. Many of the original staff are still with the FSIN or within the province.
Over the past decade, the Cultural College has been an important supporting agency to Indian communication. The graphic arts and audiovisual departments have both made major contributions.
The graphic arts department contains state of the art camera and typesetting equipment. The graphic arts department has the potential to produce the "Saskatchewan Indian" to the 'camera-ready' stage.
The audio-visual department at the College has produced award winning material. In the past, the moccasin telegraph radio program was produced in the College.
The staff of the curriculum development department produced the children's section of the Saskatchewan Indian and will continue in the new magazine. The curriculum development department has also produced a number of publications complete with excellent illustrating.
In Spite of the loss of funding and the subsequent loss of the FSIN Communications Program, there are still a great deal of resources to draw from.
The Cultural College library has been rated as one of the most comprehensive in North America and is an excellent source of reference material.
The Indian Communication Arts Program (INCA), is the only accredited Indian journalism program in Canada. Currently there are two full time staff, three to four part time staff and 25 full time and 10 part time students.
INCA currently publishes a biannual journal of 140-150 pages containing articles for Indian professionals. Articles published have dealt with a wide range of articles with the larger portion dealing with education. While the journal contains items of a scholarly nature, it is written so as to be understood by all people.
The new media corporation has access to funding from the Secretary of State, however, these funds are limited and if the corporation is to expand, it will require funding from other sources such as Indian Affairs, and the Province. Plus, it will be necessary to produce revenue like any other communications corporation.
Readers will notice a change in the magazine as more advertising space is sold to meet costs, and the magazine will not be distributed free of charge, but instead will be available by subscription or special bulk rates to bands and Indian institutions.
Also, the Saskatchewan Indian will be published quarterly only. This is necessary for two reasons. First, funding will not permit a monthly magazine and also several of the district offices are developing regular monthly or semi-monthly newsletters and it would be counter-productive to duplicate efforts at the local level.
Future plans include examining newspaper and community based radio where required, as well as developing a half-hour weekly television program.
The development of community radio is being studied and as the studies come together, efforts will be made to develop a pilot project.