When I was young, I used to admire disc jockeys and their ability to send their voices above hills and over tree tops. I don’t think they realized the isolation they countered in Treaty 8 territory. For some people in rural communities, listening to the radio not only provides a peek into urban areas but is also a form of social interaction. Radio Bingo for example, gives rural community members a chance to ‘win some big bucks’. And calling the request line to ‘dedicate a song to an aunties’ ex-boyfriend’s brother from down the road’ gives people a sense of inclusion and, even more importantly, a voice.
That being said, I was excited to reflect on a year of being a Northern Fellow on 91.1 the Bridge. For a half an hour, my friend and mentor, Russell Thomas and I explored my path on a segment called Impact Radio. It was then that he told me I was the first ever guest to return for a second interview. With cameras rolling and microphones live in the studio, we caught up with each other. And there we were, sending stories of resiliency and traditional lifestyles over hills and treetops —doing our best to counter the isolation sometimes felt by Indigenous innovators in rural communities by their echoing voices.
I feel like every time Russell and I connect the most profound things happen. For example, the time spent with him on Impact Radio resulted in him connecting me with CFWE, a provincial Aboriginally-owned and operated radio station. Within days, I was sharing stories about a gathering at Little Big Lake, outside Janvier, Alberta, sending them back over the water and to the shores where they originated. Who would have thought that our meat drying, tee pee creepin, medicine gathering adventures would make it full circle!
CFWE is the kind of platform ABSI Connect was waiting for. This partnership provides access to a province wide and pan-aboriginal audience in which we can make a call out to innovators; who are the innovators making a difference in your community?! How are they making a difference and where can we connect to make a more collective impact?! I can’t wait to be the first guest to return for a third time to see where Russell and my connection take us next.
By Melissa Herman