A persistent voice

Aboriginal issues discussed every week of the year

Rosalie’s shirt and necklace were a gift from Robert Wells’ wife.
Rosalie’s shirt and necklace were a gift from Robert Wells’ wife.
Rosalie is becoming skilled at using the board.
Rosalie is becoming skilled at using the board.

Long after the hullabaloo fades from the upcoming performance by A Tribe Called Red, Aboriginal issues will continue to be discussed by a few dedicated community members.

Tuesday evenings, CFRC broadcasts Aboriginal Voices — a two-hour smorgasbord of all things Aboriginal: music, local and national issues and any interview they can get their hands on.

The current hosts, Sean Story and Douglas Farquhar, have enjoyed their time in the booth and witnessed firsthand the shifting attitude towards Aboriginal issues. Story lives on nearby Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, while Farquhar is a retired teacher who lives north of the city.

“It’s been a really interesting experience,” Farquhar said.

“Over the years I hear the changes that are coming through … We’re seeing a lot more focus on Aboriginal issues in mainstream media.”

As a campus and community radio programme, Aboriginal Voices was able to address topics like education and water issues in Aboriginal communities without the constraint associated with commercial funding.

“Before you heard about Idle No More, we had been bringing those issues forward,” Farquhar said.

Hosting has prompted the men to read up more on the issues they discuss and provided opportunities to meet inspiring people.

“Musicians — that’s been the fun part for us, [including] meeting people like Buffy Sainte-Marie, Susan Aglukark [and] Derek Miller,” Farquhar said.

The show began as an effort by Aboriginal musician Gary Farmer.

“He met some people in the area and was talking about trying to get Aboriginal issues on the radio,” Farquhar said.

The show was initially called Little Red Radio, but objection from students led to a name change. Over the years a number of students and community members have been involved to some capacity.

One of the new faces is Gananoque resident Sheila Rosalie, who has volunteered as a radio producer for the past year and a half.

“I have great joy in doing that show,” said Rosalie, who hosts one to two episodes per month on her own. “I’m discovering all this great music that we have here at CFRC.”

For the past six months, Rosalie has been working on a radio dramatization of Robert Wells’ book Wawahte (Cree for “Northern lights”).

It’s the story of residential schools — compiled personal stories from three children and a historical account of how residential schools came into being.

“I put this together into three, two-hour radio shows. They aired last fall, and again this winter,” Rosalie said.

Rosalie paired the audiobook with music from Aboriginal artists.

“It’s been a wonderful experience for me to be able to learn what I’ve learned from the book Wawahte,” she said. “I would recommend that book to anyone.”

After the segments aired on Aboriginal Voices, Rosalie went back and edited the project into 15 half-hour segments, adding extra music and touching up some of her outros.

These are aired Monday evenings as part of the show Resonating Reconciliation.

Farquhar is hoping that more people approach them to get involved with the show.

“It’s more fun when you can get a group of people, each person has a different way of sharing their perspective.”

Aboriginal Voices airs Tuesdays 6-8 p.m. on CFRC.

Resonating Reconciliation airs Mondays from 6:30-7 p.m.

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