By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A lobby group charged with the dissemination of Indigenous culture joined a growing number of voices calling on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to impose a five-per-cent quota for Indigenous music on broadcasters.
Land InSight recently wrote a letter to CRTC chair Vicky Eatrides formally supporting the quota.
Land InSight director of cultural activities Andre Dudemaine said the importance of supporting Indigenous artists has become greater as many systemic barriers that were obstructing progress are no longer hindering those artists.
“In all disciplines, and particularly in the field of music and song, the arts of the first peoples of this country, after a long period of marginalization and invisibilization, are experiencing a tremendous resurgence,” he said, “as one by one the systemic barriers that have hindered the full flowering of creativity among our nations fall away.”
Land InSight’s letter to the CRTC comes on the heels of a press conference in Montreal last week, where Indigenous artists and leaders gathered to demand the CRTC introduce the five-per-cent minimum quota for Indigenous music content on commercial radio.
Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam Chief Mike `Pelash’
McKenzie was on hand, accompanied by Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) Chief Ghislain Picard and Makusham Music record label co-owner Mathieu Mackenzie.
Last summer, the record label commissioned a survey that found 94 percent of respondents agreed that a certain quota of Indigenous music should be imposed on commercial radio stations in Quebec and Canada. Of the 312 respondents, 129 _ 41 percent _ were members of an Indigenous community.
Mathieu Mackenzie said despite the rise in Indigenous recording artists making music in Canada has risen, that change hasn’t been reflected in the media.
“Although the Indigenous music industry is booming in Canada, the presence of our artists in commercial radio remains an occasional occurrence,” he said. “The memorandum we are unveiling today demonstrates how endangered Indigenous languages truly are, and why their preservation is essential. In fact, it is a concern that is shared by the vast majority of survey respondents, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Respondents generally agree that a five-percent Indigenous music quota should be imposed on commercial radio stations.”
Music is a universal language to Indigenous people and allows them to tell their stories and speak their truths, Mike `Pelash’
“Indigenous music must take its rightful place on all broadcasting platforms, especially on commercial radio,” said Mike `Pelash’ Mckenzie. “Music is a universal language that contributes to creating ties between peoples and allows us to tell our story, by bringing our vision of the world to life. Across Canada, Indigenous musical artists are ambassadors of their nations, and their work enriches Canadian society as a whole. Their art actively contributes to keeping our languages alive and perpetuating the millennial teachings of our elders.”
The CRTC’s Radio Review, which saw the light of day in December, laid out an expectation that broadcasters would begin to include Indigenous music in their playlists without a specific quota.
At that time, the CRTC confirmed a follow-up hearing would looks for feedback on Canadian content (which would include Indigenous music) development.
Upon release of the Radio Review, the CRTC said a follow-up proceeding would seek comments on Canadian content development, including how to ensure better contributions to Indigenous and diversity initiatives.
In order for the change to be accepted by the CRTC, it will have to go through a consultation process, the commission said in a statement to media.
Marc Lalonde is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with IORI:WASE. The LJI program is federally funded.