Letter submitted to the Editor of the National Post
There is much that’s problematic in Colby Cosh’s column on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that ran in the National Post this week.
Most likely, those who have taken the time to read the report and its recommendations are more concerned with the major issues raised and are moving on to more fruitful discussions.
As the union representing workers at Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) as well as CBC/Radio-Canada and many other media outlets, we know firsthand that Indigenous media workers do excellent work at many media organizations. We also know that stories by and about Aboriginal peoples should be part of every Canadian media organization’s coverage, and not confined to any one media. Just as important, we recognize and value the special role and responsibility of public service media.
APTN and CBC/Radio-Canada are best understood as public service media outlets that help Canada’s broadcasting system meet key objectives of the Broadcasting Act. For example, CBC is the only television network in the North, broadcasting local news information and cultural programming, and sharing stories from other Canadians; CBC also offers service on radio, online and in digital formats, in multiple communities and languages. For its part, APTN has been recognized as a world leader in Aboriginal broadcasting.
Both play key roles in serving Canadians, and depriving either of funding is misguided. It would deny communities across the country local programming and a diversity of voices, weaken Canada’s media industry as a whole, and be devastating for media workers who’ve been losing employment to the tune of 1,000 jobs a year in the broadcasting industry alone. Lack of funding is part of the problem. So setting up APTN and CBC/Radio-Canada to fight for the crumbs of public-service media funding as Cosh proposes would just amplify these challenges.
Instead, we support the TRC recommendations that the national public broadcaster, and the leading global Indigenous broadcaster, both be strengthened. This would ensure the vital contributions that Indigenous media workers make at both organizations continue while also generating high-quality and healthy media production for all Canadians regardless of where they live.