A new radio station approved this month for the Campbell River area will partly broadcast in a language spoken by fewer than two dozen people.
Darren Blaney, an elected councillor of the Homalco First Nation, hopes that six hours a week of K'omoks-language programming will help reverse the decline of the indigenous language and introduce it to a new generation.
"Within our community we've got maybe 20 or so [people] that can speak it fairly competently, out of 500," Blaney said. "It's in pretty dire straits right now."
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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the application by the the non-profit Aupe Cultural Enhancement Society and the Homalco First Nation on Oct. 14.
Along with 106 hours of country music programming each week, the station will broadcast 20 hours of community news, sports, weather, traffic and other community information in English and K'omoks.
Blaney, who is also a former chief of the Homalco First Nation, said a key goal for the station is to provide young members with training and work opportunities and to connect them with their traditional culture and language.
Over the next year, he said, programming will be developed and funds raised to train young Homalco First Nation members on broadcasting basics.
While the federal government committed $8.4-billion towards First Nations in its last budget, Blaney said his community cannot afford to wait for funding that will be spread out over five years.
"In the meantime, we've got kids that are getting into alcohol and drugs and stuff," he said.
The station must begin broadcasting by October 2018.