NOW Magazine - - CLUBS & CONCERTS -

In­dige­nous mu­sic hasn’t re­ceived its due on Cana­dian ra­dio. That’s some­thing ELMNT.FM in­tends to rec­tify.

Pro­nounced “el­e­ment,” the sta­tion is helmed by Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples Tele­vi­sion Net­work (APTN) and will soft­launch later this sum­mer in Toronto on 106.5FM (and in Ot­tawa on 95.7FM in mid-July).

The CRTC granted ELMNT its Toronto and Ot­tawa li­cences last June, and APTN has been ac­tively work­ing on the sta­tion since then.

“Not only has [Cana­dian ra­dio] dropped the ball [on In­dige­nous mu­sic], but you have to won­der what is it about, for ex­am­ple, Mur­ray Porter, who is an amaz­ing blues artist, that the blues sta­tions don’t play him?” says Jean La Rose, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of APTN speak­ing over the phone from the Banff World Me­dia Fes­ti­val. “That’s where we think ELMNT will make such a huge dif­fer­ence.”

La Rose says ELMNT.FM has forged a “re­ally strong part­ner­ship with Corus ra­dio,” which will pro­vide ELMNT space in its Toronto and Ot­tawa stu­dios.

In­dige­nous tal­ent will be driv­ing ELMNT in front of, and be­hind, the mic.

“In every re­spect, In­dige­nous peo­ples are ac­tively run­ning the net­work. We’re hir­ing some non-In­dige­nous peo­ple for po­si­tions where we didn’t re­ceive any ap­pli­cants, but the goal over time is to start train­ing and men­tor­ing In­dige­nous in­di­vid­u­als to start mov­ing into those po­si­tions.”

Aimed at the 25-to-45-year-old de­mo­graphic, the sta­tion will show­case 25 per cent In­dige­nous-cre­ated mu­sic – from big-name artists like A Tribe Called Red and Tanya Ta­gaq, to up-and-com­ers – along­side non-In- dige­nous pop, R&B and rock. So Iskwé, for in­stance, might be played along­side Pink. The for­mat is be­ing wel­comed by fo­cus groups through­out Canada.

“The re­ac­tion is, ‘Wow! That’s good! Who is that?’ Cana­di­ans can sense that not only do we have a depth of mu­si­cal tal­ent that is un­known to them, but now they’re go­ing to start de­vel­op­ing a re­la­tion­ship with those artists, giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to be­come the ma­jor artists that they are.”

ELMNT will also air talk-ra­dio shows like Mo­ment Of Truth with David Moses, which aims to fos­ter con­ver­sa­tion and greater un­der­stand­ing be­tween In­dige­nous peo­ples and Cana­di­ans. Other pro­gram­ming in­cludes Panic In The Night with Métis singer/ song­writer Janet Panic on Mon­day to Fri­day from 7 to 11 pm.

Though it’s not the only In­dige­nous sta­tion in Canada, ELMNT has big am­bi­tions. While the ul­ti­mate goal is to cre­ate a na­tional In­dige­nous ra­dio pres­ence that ri­vals the CBC, Rose ex­plains that the ob­jec­tive right now is to open the door and cel­e­brate the ev­ery­day wins of In­dige­nous peo­ple.

“The goal is to cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity for In­dige­nous Cana­di­ans to have a space in the ra­dio world to not only com­mu­ni­cate with each other but also, hope­fully, open a gate­way for Cana­di­ans to ex­change with us, to learn about some of the chal­lenges we face and the suc­cesses we’re ac­cu­mu­lat­ing as a com­mu­nity, as in­di­vid­u­als, in the arts, sciences, the medical field ....

“Cana­di­ans tend to know only parts of our re­al­ity. We’re hop­ing to show the rich­ness of who we are.”

Chaka V. Grier

Janet Panic

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