Aboriginal broadcasting
Erasmus says he can't rescind the NCS motion

Tracy Kovalench
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 06/98) - After resolving at last month's national assembly to take over the western NWT's only aboriginal broadcaster, the Dene Nation is taking a more co-operative approach to its relationship with the Native Communications Society.

"People believe that NCS is having difficulty," Dene Nation Grand Chief Bill Erasmus told News/North last week.

Erasmus says Dene communities have expressed concerns about the fate of the Native Press, an NCS publication that many delegates at the assembly believe is no longer being published.

(According to NCS executive director Barry Zellen, however, the next edition of Native Press is scheduled to be released this week.)

The resolution on NCS, passed late on the last day of the assembly, called on the Denendeh Development Corporation to assume control of NCS, using the communications wing of the Dene Nation.

It also advocated dissolving NCS's board of directors, which are now responsible only to western NWT communities through an annual general meeting.

"I can't rescind the motion," said Erasmus in an interview. "Practically speaking, I don't think it makes sense."

"I'm at liberty to interpret this and make it work as best I can," he added.

The Dene Nation appears to have backed away from its earlier threat, however, It has now offered its support in making and improving NCS's business connections as well as helping with fundraising efforts, says Erasmus.

The Dene Nation plans to work closely with the staff at NCS, establishing a healthy communication link. "We're not looking to control the organization," says Erasmus. "They have to be independent."

Zellen, who recently announced he will resign from NCS in September, said he remains skeptical about Dene leaders' intentions, but also expressed some degree optimism in the Dene Nation's approach.

"It's hard to quickly forget about the methods used at the assembly," said Zellen, referring the failure of assembly leaders to consult NCS before passing the motion.

However, he added, "Erasmus's offer to help is perhaps a good starting point to a new relationship."

In addition to the irregularly printed xxxNative Press, NCS broadcasts CKLB, an aboriginal-language country-music radio station and produces two television shows on TVNC. The radio station is temporarily located on the Aurora College Campus at Northern United Place.