Quick trip to Quebec – Day Two
July 2015, Mohawk Country.
Today’s main agenda item was the pre-conference gathering at AMARC, known in English as the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and an place I had always wanted to visit. AMARC is an international non-governmental organisation that represents and supports the community radio movement, within the principals of solidarity and international cooperation.
The theme of the event was “Third & Indigenous Language Communities on Air: A gathering of community broadcasters” and it brought together people from Australia, Ireland, Egypt, Slovakia, El Salvador, Palestine, Portugal, Canada, England, USA, Korea, Taiwan, Inuit and various First Nations as well as others I’ve no doubt missed. In one of those lovely coincidences it was organised by Gretchen King, who I had interviewed and stayed with (in 2007 I think) for my PhD research on the National Prison Day radio broadcasting she coordinated for community radio across Canada.
As is usually the case at these events there were too many sessions to be able to attend them all. My first choice was a seminar presented by Kenina Kakekayash and Bill Morris, two broadcasters from the Wawataya Radio Network, from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario. Kenina spoke about the successes and challenges they face in meeting the communication needs of their communities – providing radio programming to more than 300,000 Aboriginal people. Bill then told us,in his ancestral language of Cree, about the day he was abducted from his village and taken to Residential School. He was six or seven years old and his mother thought he was just lost in the forest after a day of hunting for birds – put his dinner out on the table expecting him home later. The First Nations of Canada share a comparable horrific history with those of Australia, with the Residential Schools creating a similar generation of Stolen Generations.
In the afternoon, Dr Peter Lewis from London Metropolitan University (who had introduced me to the fabulous British Museum during my London visit last year) held a “Cross Linguistic Borders” workshop as part of the Transnational Radio Encounters research project. Broadcasters from around the world talked about the work they do, working across culture and language. This was hugely valuable for me, as I’m about to start working with refugee youth at the UniCast radio station at the University of South Australia.
Under the Olive Tree’s Laith Marouf
Gretchen King records conversations about multi-lingual broadcasting
At the pre-conference, I had met up with my friend and long-time community radio practitioner Juliet Fox from 3CR in Melbourne and we decided to make the most of the late setting of the sun to explore Old Montreal and the Old Port areas of the city. The Old Port stretches across more than 2kms of the St-Lawrence River. It was used as a trading post by French fur traders as early as 1611, and redeveloped in the early 1990s to become a major tourist attraction similar to Southbank in Brisbane. Every two years Cirque du Soleil launches a new show from the Jacques Cartier Quay at the Port, but unfortunately not when we were there. The area itself is set on the edge of Old Montreal, the oldest area of the city that dates back to the early 1600s.
The Old Port also hosts the Montreal Clock Tower, also known as The Sailors’ Memorial Clock, built in 1919, as a memorial to the Canadian sailors who died in the first world war.
Speaking of memorials, we came across a very disturbing one in the Place d’Armes, a square in Old Montreal – a monument in memory of Montreal “founder”, Paul de Chomedey. It always astounds me to see the blatant celebration of colonisation and genocide, especially on this weekend, that recognised the 25 year anniversary of the Oka Crisis – a land dispute between a group of Mohawk people of Kanehsatake and the town of Oka, which began on July 11, 1990 and lasted until September 26 of the same year. The community stood up to the town, Quebec provincial police and eventually the Canadian army over plans to build a golf course on sacred land on their territory – check out more here.