M’CHIGEENG—There have been a lot of challenges along the road to establishing an Anishnabemowin (Ojibwe language) radio station on Manitoulin, noted Ojibwe Cultural Foundation art director and Gimaa Radio founder Anong Beam, but the progress that has been made toward reaching her father’s (the renown late artist Carl Beam) dream has been very gratifying for her.
There are still plenty of hurdles ahead in transferring the licence to a not-for-profit (Ms. Beam holds the licence in trust currently), but in addition to having a steady home, the radio station now has a source of stable core funding that has allowed it to hire full time employed staff.
One of those employees is Station Manager Debbie Mishibinijima who declares that she is “loving it.”
As a short range FM community radio station Gimaa Radio has an over-the-airwaves range of about 10 kilometers, but it can be accessed just about anywhere in the world as it is live-streamed online at gimaaradio.com.
“We are working on updating the website,” said Ms. Mishibinijima. “We also put updates on Facebook and Twitter.”
Fluency is an important factor for an Anishinabemowin language radio station whose mission is to help maintain and keep the language both vibrant and accessible. The station has access to a university language program, but as Ms. Beam notes that approach can be “dry as toast.” Luckily Gimaa Radio has three elders currently assisting them with their language component. The station is currently also seeking an audio technician who is fluent in Anishinabemowin. “We are working on that,” said Ms. Mishibinijima.
“The great thing is that we are broadcasting Ojibwe spoken word content,” she noted. The OCF has proven to be an invaluable resource for that content, as it has an extensive library of audio material that it has accumulated over the years from interviews that were conducted with local elders. “We are working on getting permissions from family members to use that material,” said Ms. Mishibinijima.
The station currently has two billboards announcing its existence to those passing through the broadcast region, which is still “about 10 kilometers, depending on terrain,” she said. As time, funding and capacity building increase, that range will hopefully be extended.
It may be baby steps for now, but the team at Gimaa Radio have their eyes on the goal and each step draws them closer to realizing the dream of having an Anishinabemowin radio station offering a full range of programming to the Island community and beyond.