Peter Kalm and Robert Hopkins.
On September 17, 2019, Peter Kalm of the Eesti Pop Radio Show in Whitehorse attended the Open Source North 60 Indigenous Languages Revitalization Conference held in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, focusing on the ways in which community radio can be used to stop the decline of Canada’s Indigenous languages and encourage their revitalization and use in First Nations and Inuit communities.
Eesti Pop is a unique radio show which features all Estonian language programming and has been on the air continuously since January 2005. It is the only show of its kind in North America. Broadcast on CJUC-FM in Whitehorse as well as its repeater stations, Eesti Pop can be heard in many communities in the Yukon Territory. Although there are not many Estonian speakers in Northern Canada, the reception from local people has been overwhelmingly positive and many inquiries have been made as to what language the songs being played are in. Music is truly the universal language and Estonian Canadians should be proud of how much their music is appreciated by Canadians of so many different backgrounds.
Peter Kalm spoke about his personal and professional background and his long time involvement in Toronto’s Estonian community, mentioning how he was approached by his friend, Robert Hopkins of Open Broadcaster in 2004 about starting an Estonian radio show using the community radio software that Open Broadcaster had developed. Much time and work went into the show, uploading songs from compact discs and files into the radio station’s database. Contacts were made with artists in Estonia who were very happy to have their songs broadcast in Canada and helped by providing professionally recorded introductions and station identifications.
He also focused on how useful this technology could be to Indigenous radio stations in Canada, and how similar radio shows could be created in these communities, playing a major role in reviving Canada’s first languages, particularly since only three Indigenous languages (Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut) still have large numbers of speakers (although some smaller languages are still strong in their traditional communities).
Only Inuktitut has a music scene with a surprisingly large number of bands and singers that keeps growing year to year, and the “Isuma” Inuktitut language music video by 2018 Juno Award Nominee, Inuk Recording Artist, Kelly Fraser was shown at the conference. Kelly Fraser has performed in countless concerts across Canada, given many interviews, and was a guest speaker at the United Nations in New York for the Year of Indigenous Languages. Kelly met Peter two years ago and they have become good friends, with plans to collaborate on a number of projects in the near future.
The conference featured a number of other speakers, including Robert Hopkins, Bill Polonsky, Bella Alphonse, Graham Gillies and Vince Maggard on open source radio software, Indigenous community radio and Indigenous language revitalization.