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Background On The Media Corporation

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 1987      p04  
The Saskatchewan Indian Media Corporation was established by a group of volunteers from the private sector and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations staff. The corporation was developed as a non-profit corporation designed to deliver media services to the Treaty Indian people of Saskatchewan.

This was done in order to access funding from the Secretary of State Communications Program. A number of sources of funding were looked at including the provincial government, private foundations and federal sources, including Indian Affairs and the Secretary of State. The only fund that was readily accessible was the Communications Program of the Secretary of State.

In the criteria, it is necessary that the communications organization be at arms length from politics. Therefore, the Board of Directors and the administration had to be removed from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and had to be persons who did not hold elected positions. This has been the criteria of the Secretary of State since the communications program was put in place mt he early 1970's. The FSIN has a long history of developing communications for the Indian people of Saskatchewan but was always denied access to funding from the Secretary of State.

The first attempt by the FSIN for funding from the Secretary of State was in 1972 and the FSIN was denied and has been denied every time since because of the political nature of the organization. The FSIN was never able to access any communications funds from the Secretary of State, except a small amount of about $20,000 per year available to the FSIN as part of core funding.

The provincial funding for the communications program ran out in 1982 and there was no sources available to support the program. From 1971 to 1982, the province had paid regular contributions to the FSIN which increased roughly at 10 per cent per annum. The final amount was over $450,000. When this amount was withdrawn, the communications program fell by the wayside and remained dormant ever since. Only sporadic issues of the Saskatchewan Indian have been published in the interim. The radio program, "Mocassin Telegraph" has since ceased operation along with the television program "The Fifth Generation".

The FSIN then began the Communications Commission in an effort to revitalize communications for the province. However; they were still unable to get money from the Secretary of State and the province has since transferred the FSIN funding to its own programming.

The Commission could not receive funding for any program associated with the Federation. Since that time, communications has been dormant in Saskatchewan. It was therefore necessary that if media services are to be developed, a non-political agency had to be put in place.

Therefore, this year the Saskatchewan Indian Media Corporation was established, incorporated and is being implemented. The budget for the new media corporation is very small. During the current year; only $100,000 is available for publication of the "Saskatchewan Indian" and it is doubtful that it will increase. However; we do have status as an on-going program with Secretary of State, and we are allocated to $100,000 per annum for the foreseeable future.

It should be pointed out that there was intensive lobbying on the part of the Board to have the media corporation recognized by the Secretary of State as a separate entity, delivering media services to Indian people. In the past, the Secretary of State has insisted that all communications societies deliver media services to both Status, non Status and Metis people. Saskatchewan Indians had rejected native programming in the past and therefore, it was necessary that we continue the policy.

The Saskatchewan Native Communications Society was developed as an off-shoot of the Metis Association as a Native Communications Society. They have been receiving money on behalf of Saskatchewan Indian people for the past several years. Also, the Missinippi Broadcasting Corporation in La Ronge is another native communications program that is receiving money from Secretary of State and delivering media services to Indian people generally.

The Board remained consistent in the stand taken by the Federation, that programming be done for Indian people specifically, and that a separate institution be set up. Our current plan includes the development of the "Saskatchewan Indian" as an Indian magazine to be delivered on a quarterly basis, and in the future to increase the publication to a monthly. We have also developed a plan which includes the development of television and radio. This development plan is only in the formative stages and will be developed as the corporation becomes more stable.

As we move forward to establish Indian government, it must be built on a firm foundation. One of the pillars of any free society, is a free press. We therefore see the media corporation performing a valuable service to Indian people and Indian government in the future.