I'm Stanley James, chair of the board of directors of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon.
Thank you for the invitation to make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance regarding Canada's place in a competitive world.
The standing committee wishes to hear how citizens and business can prosper in the future, can be healthy, have proper skills, and be given incentives to work and to save. The committee also wishes to hear how program spending measures should be implemented to meet those aspirations.
In 1979, recognizing that aboriginal northerners had serious concerns about the lack of representation of indigenous languages, customs, and cultures, the CRTC established the extension of service to northern and remote communities committee. The committee recommended that federal funding be provided to develop aboriginal broadcasting networks in order to meet Canada's obligation to provide indigenous people opportunities to preserve our languages and culture.
In March of 1983, the northern native broadcast access program was created to support the production and distribution of relevant aboriginal programming to the northern indigenous population. The access program funds thirteen non-profit communications societies, one of which is Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon.
In 1984, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon was incorporated as a non-profit society governed by the fourteen first nations of the Yukon.
Following a two-year training program, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon staff, consisting of five aboriginal individuals, began broadcasting radio programming on CHON-FM on February 1, 1985, to six Yukon communities, seven hours a day, five days a week.
In 1986, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon carried out a one-year television training program. The following year it produced its first season of half-hour programs broadcast across the Yukon and Northwest Territories on the CBC North television system.
Shortly after that, on February 1, 1991, Television Northern Canada went on the air. Television Northern Canada was created as members of northern aboriginal communications societies, including ourselves, took on the challenge of providing television services from the north to the north.
In 1999, Television Northern Canada underwent a change. It became the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada's national aboriginal broadcaster.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon currently provides 26 hours of original programming to that network in a variety of languages, including English. We also broadcast original radio programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our radio signal streams over the World Wide Web.
The majority of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon key and support staff are members of first nations and are intimately familiar with the languages, cultures, and communities of Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Alaska.
From the beginning, over 150 individuals have been involved in the organization in some way or other. Employees, directors of the board, contractors, consultants, and independent producers all have had a significant role to play in the growth of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon and its contribution to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of northern society.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon has played, and continues to play, a role as an economic generator. Since its launch, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon has injected approximately $21 million into the Yukon economy. It has been the main trainer and employee of aboriginal people wishing to enter into a career in electronic broadcasting in the Yukon.
The northern native broadcast access program is administered by the aboriginal programs directorate of Canadian Heritage.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon submits an application annually to the department for core funding. A contribution agreement provides just over $1 million to the organization per fiscal year. The organization in turn must provide the department with quarterly activity and financial statements to trigger payments. Each year the department has been late in advising recipients of the status of their applications.
This year Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon did not receive written notice from the department until September 18 that our application was approved and a cheque for the first quarter only was appended. That's six months into a 12-month fiscal year.
This arrangement creates and maintains a false sense of economy and is designed to ensure that non-profit societies are always only a step away from failure.
The program has not kept pace with the needs of the societies it helped establish. Core funding has not increased to match the cost of living, which means our paycheques are worth less each year.
In an era of rapid technological change, funding to replace and upgrade aging and obsolete equipment is not factored into the program.
In spite of these challenges, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon is a first nation success story. We've established ourselves as a credible communications operation from the production and distribution of radio and television programming from a first nations perspective.
We train and employ first nations people in all aspects of the industry. We play a key role in protecting, encouraging, enhancing, and perpetuating the language and culture of Yukon first nations people on the local, national, and international level.
Against that backdrop, we see ourselves as being a player in Canada's pursuit of a place in a competitive world.
To that end, to help us achieve that goal, we have recommendations for your consideration. These are not new. We've made these recommendations to other standing committees, and to federal government policy researchers, and we'll repeat them here for you.
We recommend that the federal government recognize that aboriginal broadcasting is an integral part of Canadian public broadcasting; that it strengthen and entrench the position of aboriginal broadcasters in the Broadcast Act, federal policies, and regulations.
We recommend continuing to invest in the societies and provide adequate funding for (i) operations and productions, (ii) the upgrade of transmitting and production equipment, and (iii) training and capacity development.
And we recommend modifying the funding process to enable multi-year agreements.
Mr. Pallister and members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, this concludes our presentation to you.
The CEO of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon, Ms. Shirley Adamson, is here with me today. Together we'll be happy to address any questions you have of us.