Indigenous radio station hitting Vancouver airwaves next summer

CKUR will be broadcast on 106.3 FM and is expected to launch next June.

CKUR will be broadcast on 106.3 FM and is expected to launch next June

The other four Indigenous stations will be based in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto. (Shutterstock/DmitriMaruta)

An Indigenous radio station is set to hit Vancouver's airwaves next summer, one of five launching across Canada after receiving approval from the CRTC.

In a statement, CRTC chairman and CEO Jean-Pierre Blais said the decision "comes at a crucial time, not only because it comes in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, but also because of the many major issues that affect these communities."

Craig Ellis, program director for CFNR in Terrace, originally applied for the Urban Aboriginal radio license, and said he is "excited beyond belief" by the news.

"I'm hoping [the station] is one of those vehicles that will build a bridge between non First Nations people and also make them appreciate the culture and history of the area where they're living," he said.

The Vancouver station will primarily aim to serve the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations, but Ellis said the station's content will try to reach Indigenous groups across the province.

"We will also reach out to other nations in the Fraser Valley area and also to the peoples who are from the nations around B.C. that have left their home territories and moved to Vancouver," he said.

Ellis said the station will focus on sharing the "culture, music, and history of these communities — it's a chance to bring hope to some of the communities and highlight success stories."

He said that while media coverage of Indigenous issues has improved in recent years, having a single platform dedicated to First Nations content will help resolve some of the areas in which storytelling is lacking.

"These stories are often told from that traditional colonial perspective — what's missing is that Indigenous voice especially in terms of stories about land titles and language loss."

Some of the content will be broadcast in Indigenous languages, but Ellis said he hopes the programming — especially the planned musical content — will strike a chord with a wide ranging audience.

CKUR will broadcast on 106.3 FM and is expected to launch next June.

The other four Indigenous stations will be based in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto.

With files from On The Coast