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Seeking CBC representation

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Representatives from the francophone community would like to see Radio Canada establish a presence in the North.

Batiste Foisy, a journalist with the French newspaper L'Aquilon and Carmen-Moral-Suarez, director general of the Association Franco-Culturel de Yellowknife (AFCY), presented the idea to a Heritage Canada Standing Committee that was passing through Yellowknife March 12 as part of a nation-wide tour.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Carmen Moral-Suarez, director general of the Association Franco-Culturel de Yellowknife and Batiste Foisy, a journalist with the Francophone newspaper L'Aquilon, are looking to CBC for some representation in the North. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

Radio Canada, the French part of CBC, is remotely broadcasted in Yellowknife from Montreal thanks to a license obtained by the AFCY.

Consequently, the radio station doesn't broadcast any local territorial news. Foisy said that without any francophone journalists in the North, Radio Canada often provides news not relevant or untimely to the North.

He cited the case of the racist and sexist e-mail circulated at Yellowknife's Industry Canada office, which was reported on Radio Canada three weeks after the fact. He noted that the CBC has reporters in major cities across the globe, but no French reporters in the NWT.

Moral-Suarez said that as the AFCY is funding Radio Taiga and rebroadcasting Radio Canada, they are helping to fulfill part of CBC's mandate by providing some francophone representation in the North.

However, CBC is not obligated to provide French programming through Radio Canada to the North.

The AFCY receives no funding for rebroadcasting Radio Canada.

Although they don't pay anything for the license, the AFCY does pay the CBC $6,500 annually to rent space on their antenna to broadcast Radio Taiga.

Moral-Suarez said she would like to get some assistance and recognition for the service that they are providing to francophone Canadians.

"We are paying a fair amount for rental space for broadcasting Radio Taiga, said Moral-Suarez. "That's a lot considering we're fulfilling part of their mandate."

Although the francophone population of the NWT might not merit a French bureau, Foisy suggested that the CBC could fund a francophone journalist to provide French news for local stations.

The only French radio news that was available through Radio Taiga was a weekly half-hour broadcast by Rudy Desjardins.

Since the station could not afford to renew his contract, francophone northern news will again be limited to the French newspaper L'Aquilon.

Moral-Suarez said that without local news, it's difficult for francophones who move to the North to feel at home.

Those listening to Radio Canada will only receive news from Montreal, reminding them of home rather than welcoming them to the North.

The results of the standing committee should be ready in June of this year.

Moral-Suarez noted that the AFCY has an excellent relationship with CBC North, who is helping make sure they can continue providing Radio Canada programming at no cost.