Back in 1989, the only radio and television stations available to the people of Chéticamp were in English, and young francophones had nothing but English language music and artists to listen to.
At that time the community was torn by the Acadian school crisis, with over 60% of residents voting against the idea of starting a francophone school in the region. Then a French-language radio station came on the scene and turned things around.
CKJM Radio Chéticamp has been broadcasting radio programs and music since 1995. Since then, the community has been able to hear francophone, Acadian and local music in homes and businesses. Young people who were not familiar with any francophone artists (except perhaps the most well-known ones like Roch Voisine and Céline Dion) became exposed to a variety of Quebec and Acadian music as local francophone artists were now recording their music and being given air time.
There are 3,500 francophones living in the Chéticamp Acadian region, and 95% of them listen to this community radio station. As a co-operative undertaking, it is run by a 12-member board of directors.
The station is self-sufficient, bringing in revenues from advertising sales and fundraising activities. By taking part in various activities put on by the station to raise money, the community contributes over $100,000 a year to help cover the cost of operations.
CKJM has a multitrack recording studio and has assisted a number of local artists with recording and promotion. The station has earned 16 awards of excellence at the Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada awards gala and is often cited as a model of success in a small community.
In 2008, CKJM set up a repeater (a 600-watt transmitter that broadcasts all of its programming) in Pomquet, another isolated Acadian community 200 km from Chéticamp. CKJM is currently looking into the possibility of placing a repeater in Sydney, Nova Scotia, to serve French-speaking residents in that area.
For more stories about co-operatives in Canada, visit s.coop/IYCspotlight.