News / Toronto

'Fulfilling an urgent need': Indigenous radio station to hit airwaves in Toronto

The CRTC announced Wednesday the approval of a license to create the First Peoples Radio Inc. in five cities in Canada.

Sam Kloetstra, a youth coordinator with Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle sees Toronto's new indigenous radio station as an  opportunity for Indigenous artists.

Eduardo Lima/Metro News / Metro News

Sam Kloetstra, a youth coordinator with Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle sees Toronto's new indigenous radio station as an opportunity for Indigenous artists.

Toronto airwaves are about to get an Indigenous addition.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced Wednesday the approval of a license to create the First Peoples Radio Inc. in Toronto. This is one of the five stations approved to operate in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Vancouver.

In its decision to grant the licenses, CRTC said it was "fulfilling an urgent need" to have radio stations where content is focused on Indigenous people in urban communities.

"I am ecstatic that the good news has finally come," said Jean Paul Gladu, president and CEO of the Toronto-based Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. He said over 50 per cent of the Indigenous population lives in urban centres, and Toronto is home to nearly 80,000 Indigenous people.

"That's a significant part of the general population, and it's great to have content that reflects our culture," Gladu said.

It's also important that, at a time when the country is in the process of reconciliation, cities get a platform that pays attention to Indigenous issues, he said.

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), which was behind the application for the First Peoples Radio Inc., expects to hit the Toronto and Ottawa airwaves in the next ten months.

"First Peoples Radio will hold true to its original inspiration - to fill the gap for urban Aboriginal Peoples who feel that existing stations don't reflect their presence in the community," the group wrote in a statement.

Non-Indigenous people in Toronto also stand to benefit from the new radio station, said Sam Kloetstra, a youth coordinator with Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle.

"It's going to be easy for them to get in touch with us and learn what's going on in our community," he said, noting a rich oral tradition keeps Indigenous communities closer together.

He also sees an opportunity for Indigenous artists to bring their creativity to a higher level.

"We're in a renaissance of Indigenous talent and people are recognizing that value," he said. "This radio station gives them a voice."

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