Wawatay Communications Society serves the communication needs of First Nations people and communities of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It does this through the distribution of a monthly newspaper, daily radio programming, television production services and a multimedia website that seeks to preserve and enhance indigenous languages and cultures of Aboriginal people in northern Ontario.
Mike Metatawabin - PRESIDENT
Nick Day - VICE PRESIDENT
Vivian Waswa - SECRETARY
Mike Hunter - ELDER & MEMBER
Harvey Yesno - MEMBER
"Wawatay Communications Society is a self-governing, independent community-driven entrepreneurial native organization dedicated to using appropriate technologies to meet the communication needs of people of Aboriginal ancestry in Northern Ontario, wherever they live. In doing so, its founders intended that Wawatay would serve their communities by preserving, maintaining and enhancing indigenous languages and culture."
"To provide media capabilities and content that address the unique needs of the Nishnawbe people."
The membership of the Society – 49 First Nation communities within the territory of James Bay Treaty 9 and portions of Treaty 5 – formally adopted the above mandate and mission statement at an Annual General Membership Meeting May 5-6, 2004
Published by Wawatay Communications Society since 1974, the monthly newspaper is distributed to more than 80 First Nations across Northern Ontario and to Aboriginal people living in the region's towns and cities. Wawatay News features Aboriginal news, people, culture and language. Ours is the only newspaper that publishes stories in English and the Aboriginal languages of Northern Ontario – Ojibway, OjiCree and Cree. Wawatay News is also consistently recognized for journalistic excellence. Over the past four years, we have received 16 national and provincial newspaper awards. Wawatay News coverage and distribution area serves an Aboriginal population of almost 58,000. Wawatay News also provides translation services in Ojibway, OjiCree and Cree lanuguages from English Ojibway.
Wawatay Radio Network
Provides radio programming to more than 30,000 Aboriginal people in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Treaty 3 areas. WRN is also distributed via Bell ExpressVu nationwide. WRN provides regional, national and international news of interest to its audience broadcast in the Aboriginal languages of Northern Ontario – Ojibway, OjiCree and Cree. WRN also provides an English version of its news broadcast to that portion of the Aboriginal population who do not speak or understand their ancestral languages. Broadcasts also consist of local events, community announcements, special programs for Elders, Youth and Women and interactive call-in shows such as question and answer panels, dedications and greetings. WRN is also streamed over Wawatay News Online. WRN currently broadcasts 48 hours of unique programming per week and 44 of those are broadcast in the Northern Ontario Aboriginal languages of OjiCree, Cree and Ojibway
Produces two programs which are broadcast nationally on the Aboriginal Peoples Televsion Network. Wawatay Kids TV is a 13-part series targeting children four-10 years of age. The 13-30 minute episodes teach language by providing introductory lessons on the Ojibway language. The show also provides simple life lessons, wilderness teachings and promotes oral teachings through retelling of legends. Currently, Wawatay Kids TV content is 10 per cent Ojibway but plans to increase its Ojibway language content to 50 per cent. Wawatay Presents Cry of the Loon Fishing Adventures where traditional fishing techniques are explored and presented from an Aboriginal perspective. Fifty per cent of the show Wawatay Presents Shoomis' Legends is in the OjiCree language. Each episode also features a legend and a feature on creating a birch bark canoe. Shoomis' Legends are geared for a youth audience.
Wawatay News Online
Offers cultural and language content in web-based media that is accessible and of interest to all members of NAN and Treaty 3, especially youth. The website provides a unique perspective on the people, languages and culture of NAN and Treaty 3 in particular through multimedia content that combines photos, audio, video and text. Visit www.wawataynews.ca and follow the multimedia link. Wawatay News Online also promotes language use through stories translated into syllabics, which is a font that is made available for download. Visitors to the website have steadily increased since it first launched in May 2007. Total visitors have increased from 3,394 per month to 22,901 per month as of August 2007, highlighting the growing importance of online media. Wawatay News Online also streams Wawatay Radio and provides an online learning tool for high school students
Wawatay News has won many awards over the years, both for it's excellent journalism and for it's stunning visual impact.
Wawatay Native Communications Society Milestones
Wawatay Native Communications Society Milestones
1972 – The Sioux Lookout Friendship Centre publishes Keesis, a newsletter in English and handwritten Ojibwe syllabics.
1974 – Wawatay is incorporated. Provides trail radios. Tranforms Keesis into Wawatay News. Helps Big Trout Lake set up a community radio station.
1975 – Helps Muskrat Dam set up a cost-effective community radio station.
1976 – More communities approach Wawatay for help to set up radio stations.
1978 – Wawatay experiment links Big Trout Lake, Sandy Lake, Fort Hope and Sioux Lookout radio stations for three months.
1979 – Wawatay starts broadcasting department and distributes taped news programs through mail and green garbage bag drops by plane.
– Bell Canada contracts Wawatay to provide translations services for Cree- and Ojibwe-speaking customers.
1980 – Satellites move into communities and begin broadcasting "Superstation" programming. Wawatay continues to distribute news by mail.
1980 – Wawatay continues producing and distributing, by mail, a one-hour program in the language. The program is aired at each community radio station each week.
Early 1980s – Wawatay pioneers a computer-based syllabics script on a Mac platform, for Cree and Ojibwe stories.
1981 – TVO launches services in northern Ontario. Wawatay looks at expanding its radio programming.
1983 – The federal government creates the Northern Native Access Program for production of Native language programming.
1984 – Wawatay signs a distribution agreement with TVO. The Wawatay Radio Network is launched Sept. 6. Three hundred people attend the event and tune into WRN.
1985 – Wawatay looks at developing a Native language television network.
1986 – A Wawatay television studio built in Sioux Lookout and Wawatay Cree radio arrives in Moose Factory.
1987 – Keenawint, Wawatay's first television program airs on TVO in January.
1990 – Wahsa distance education starts broadcasting classes in September.
– Wawatay faces deep funding cuts made by the federal government.
1992 – Thirty-five community radio stations get training for one year.
1997 – Wawatay Print Services is launched as a division of Wawatay News.
1998 – Wawatay launches its first website. Fully digital production of Wawatay News begins.
1999 – Wawatay TV programming airs nationally on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
2003 – Work begins on a Wawatay Digital Archive in partnership with K-Net, with funding support from FedNor. Thirty editions of Wawatay News – one each from the 30 years the newspaper has published – are digitized as a Wawatay 30th anniversary project.
2004 – Wawatay and Wasaya Airways launch Sagatay as the airline's inflight magazine.
– The Wawatay Online Learning Project is developed in partnership with K-Net, with funding from Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program.
2005 – WRN Moose Factory relocates its station to Timmins.
2006 – Wawatay Translation Services adopts a new Unicode syllabics font compatible with digital printing and web applications.
2007 – Wawatay News Online, www.wawataynews.ca, is launched in May 2007. The first edition of Seven youth magazine is published (under the title Celebrate Life with the Seventh Generation).