Aboriginal Peoples Television Network turns 21

Indian Country Today

On the Indian Country Today newscast for Sept. 30 are Monika Ille and Cheryl McKenzie from Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, followed by Indian Country Today reporter Dalton Walker.

Indian Country Today

A television network launched in Canada 21 years ago this month and became the first Aboriginal network in the world. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network APTN signed on the air on September 1st, 1999 in Winnipeg Canada. Through the decades It has created its own television series and newscasts. Joining us today to give us some more history of APTN is CEO Monica Ille and the Executive Director of News and Current Affairs, Cheryl McKenzie.  

Plus senior correspondent for Indian Country Today Dalton Walker Joins us to talk about the judicial system and Native Americans who are running for seats on the state Supreme courts.  

Some quotes from Monica Ille:

"I said to myself, one day, I'm going to work at APTN and I truly believe in the importance of communicating and more Indigenous peoples that we have control of our image, our sound, and we control the stories we want to share makes a big difference in the media landscape. So a very proud moment."

"We have a way of telling our stories and it is unique to us. And the fact that we could decide what we want to share brings diversity, brings something new to the media landscape. As you communicate with people, hopefully stereotypes start to fall and you start to appreciate one another. And for many years, Indigenous media has been underestimated. And for now I think they're starting to have somewhat of a balance. There's still lots to do. I think we're getting to the point where people, especially in Canada are more aware of Indigenous peoples struggles, indigenous people's culture and history and APTN, and all Indigenous media are playing an essential role in this and this path towards our reconciliation."

Cheryl McKenzie:

"I started APTN as our reporter that was in 2001. So just past my 19 years at APTN and our CEO at the time, really put out the message that, you know, Indigenous people really can have careers in the media let alone like national media."

"It was a big learning curve and I was just really super impressed by our team. And everyone is young, you know, Indigenous, well-trained and putting their skills to great use. And for us to be able to come together, to travel to the communities with a camera, get their elders perspectives on camera, get those youth perspectives on camera and really bringing more of Indigenous perspectives to that national dialogue was really making an impact because part of the reason why APTN was created was because Indigenous voices were not being heard. And if they were being heard, it wasn't always in the context that we would put ourselves in. The way that we would describe ourselves, the why that we would put behind on the issue is that we were covering. So we were really able to add that in diverse Indigenous perspectives...and bring it to that national dialogue and give that immediate feedback on the issues."

"That's one of our, our biggest roles. I think maybe Monica would, would agree and she could speak to that more but revitalizing Indigenous languages and making sure that they are passed on to our youth and giving our community tools to help do that and to help share those languages is certainly a part of our mandate."

Monika Ille: 

"When you talk about Indigenous languages, you know, it's a question of identity, right? And how you see things. So for APTN it is essential for us to broadcast in various Indigenous languages. So every broadcast here, we broadcast in 20 plus different Indigenous languages."

Cheryl McKenzie:

"Even in our federal election, this past federal election was the very first time that the consortium there's a production consortium of broadcasters in Canada that put on the federal election and the debates this year was the first time that we're able to stream those debates, translated into Ojibwe, Cree and in French."

"There have been like so many things that we've covered on a regular basis and just bringing, bringing light to. I can tell you about all of the lead up to the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women, where, when we first started reporting on those cases the Native Women's Association of Canada came out and said, 'okay, well, there's 500 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada in the past 20 years.' ...And we just kept reporting on those reporting on those and sure enough, the RCMP looked back into their data and realized there are a lot more in missing and murdered Indigenous women, which finally led to that national commission of inquiry. And we're still tracking those calls to action."

Monika Ille: 

"A lot of people said they tuned in on APTN just to hear the language, even though they didn't understand just by the passion of the commentators and knew exactly what was going on. And, you know, it was a success. It's such a success that we, we continue our partnership with SportsNet. But unfortunately because of COVID, everything was put on hold, but hopefully we will be able to continue and broadcast more NHL games in Cree."

Dalton Walker:

"The Supreme Court up in Washington is very diverse to begin with. So she heard perspective and what her history kind of blends right in to, I think what they're trying to do, she recently was a main character in the decision related to the state's version of the Indian Child Welfare Act. And that was a pretty big deal. And that was recently, so she, she has shown what she brings to the table."

"Many of the tribes in many, city, state leaders, Indigenous people have come out for her in this race. So she definitely has the backing of native people for that Native perspective."

"Now looking at state Supreme Courts this election they vary by each state when it comes to how many are running are, how many seats are open. Like we mentioned with Washington, Raquel faces one person."

"I spoke with Catherine, she technically says she couldn't talk about the libertarian party because the rules for being eligible to run for Supreme Court. But it's easy to find her history and how she got to this point, despite some research and seeing where she's been a couple of years ago, she ran for state senate as a libertarian candidate and it was unsuccessful."

"She told me that she knows it's going to be a hard, hard path to get elected. If you look at the Michigan Supreme Court, as it sits right now, even though it's nonpartisan, you can see that half the people on a bench are Republican and half are democratic affiliated. So she knows, she knows it's an uphill climb, but I think at the same time, she knows that just being a part of the race is a big deal and that she can shed light on who she is and her background."

"They noticed that the stories we did were different, written with two different lenses and they appreciate that it was not the normal type of sports coverage."

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

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