Fort Smith has variety on its FM dial at last. CKLB launched in the community last week thanks to a project spearheaded by the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, which plans to create its own programming.
Vance Sanderson, from the NWT Métis Nation, said: “We wanted to get radio on the air and start sharing our culture and languages with the community."
Work to launch on FM took more than a year, he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Fort Smith residents can find the station on 101.9 FM. CBC is the only other FM broadcaster in the community.
Sanderson, the NWT Métis Nation's languages manager, said there will be programming in Dënesųłiné, Cree, Michif, and English.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for Elders to tell stories and speak the language," said Sanderson, "and for youth and adults to be part of a project that will revitalize language in the community."
The station is housed on the top floor of 206 McDougal Road in Fort Smith. There is an initial five-year commitment to broadcasting, though the Métis Nation hopes it becomes a permanent fixture in the community.
“We are open to ideas from community members to make it the best radio station possible,” Sanderson continued, listing positive feedback the station has received. Residents had already requested "local music, stories, language lessons, and the weather in the three languages," he said, alongside coverage of community events.
Announcements of locally produced shows, and opportunities to participate, are expected soon.
“It’s going to create employment opportunities and offer small contract work to the community,” Sanderson said.
Meanwhile, the Métis Nation is planning another station – this time based in Fort Resolution.
“We want to make sure South Slave communities have radio,” Sanderson said.