Metis radio station launches online

Billed as Canada's first web-based Métis radio station, metisradio.fm is now broadcasting across the internet airwaves.

Canada's first web-based Métis radio station is now online with programming in English, French and Michif.

Metisradio.fm celebrated its launch Thursday with an evening of performances by country singer John Landry and fiddlers Clint Dutiaume and John Arcand. Actress Tantoo Cardinal and longtime performer Ray St. Germain hosted the event.

The idea originated four or five years ago, says Tony Belcourt, president of the Métis Nation of Ontario, which runs the Toronto-based operation. Presenting it online – making it accessible to listeners anywhere – seemed ideal for a community that stretches across borders.

"Our people are spread out all across Canada and into the U.S. as well," he told CBC News. "We thought about 'We can build a radio station and put it on the web.' Anyone could get it no matter where you are in the world. ... The web seemed a logical thing."

Also, because new technology allows almost anyone to record music these days, the station can promote and support Métis artists who may not have access to other platforms, Belcourt says.

"They can do something themselves and send it in to us and we'll put it on. With the kind of inexpensive recording equipment today, you can do great things," he said. "We have a lot of people who are really, genuinely, very good. You never know who's going to make it big – who's going to be the next Shania – but you've got to give people an opportunity."

His son, musician and entrepreneur Shane Belcourt, runs the new station. Though some Métis may have hidden their heritage in the past, many are now ready for their voices to be heard, he says.

"The reality was [that] Métis people went underground," Shane Belcourt said. "To come out the other end, as Louis Riel said ... 100 years ago, people will come again through the voices of our artists and they'll rise again. Here we are doing that."

In addition to featuring music, the station is accepting poetry and news items as well building a collection of archival recordings and radio programming from other sources like The Métis Show, which airs on Toronto station Aboriginal Voices Radio, for rebroadcast.