WASAUKSING FIRST NATIONS – Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare announced today that CHRZ Rez 91 radio programmers, Vince and Anita Chechock from Wasauksing First Nation are the newest journalists to be honoured with the Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nations storytelling.
The Debwewin Citation will be given at the Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity’s Anishinabek Evening of Excellence in August.
The couple started the radio station in the basement of their home in July of 2002 with the help of Central Ontario Broadcasting (Rock 95) out of Barrie. They have since moved into a building within Wasauksing. The radio station – which started to live stream in September 2014 – provides information on cultural and other events, music with a focus on Indigenous artists and information in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language). Their regular program – Anishnaabembda Noongo (Let’s speak Anishinaabemowin today) – helps beginners learn some basic Anishinaabemowin words and phrases.
Grand Council Chief Hare, on behalf of the 40 member Anishinabek First Nations, said that all political leaders recognize the importance of communications.
“The Anishinabek are proud and fortunate to number among our citizens people like Vince and Anita Chechock, who can help create greater awareness about our people, our culture, and our contemporary issues,” said Grand Council Chief Hare.
The Chechocks have also volunteered their time with the annual Gchi Dewin Indigenous Storytellers Festival.
The Debwewin Citations are the first major awards intended to recognize and encourage excellence in reporting about Indigenous issues by First Nations and other writers. The award name reflects the Ojibwe word for “truth”, and the literal meaning is “to speak from the heart”.
The award has been presented 11 times since first given to Toronto Star journalist Peter Edwards in 2002 for his extensive body of work related to the death of unarmed protester Dudley George on Sept. 6, 1995, at the former Ipperwash Provincial Park. Since then it has honoured not just journalists, but others who use their storytelling skills to create greater awareness about First Nations people across Anishinabek Nation territory.
The 2014 recipient was journalist, author, and now CBC Up North Radio host Waubgeshig Rice of Wasauksing First Nation for his excellence in storytelling. The 2013 recipient was CBC reporter Jody Porter for her ongoing coverage of First Nations issues in the Thunder Bay area. Anishinabek recipients have included renowned late Anishinabek author Basil Johnston from Cape Croker, columnist Bud Whiteye from Walpole Island, and writer/broadcaster Jennifer Ashawasagai from Henvey Inlet. The 2004 honouree was Lynn Johnston, who introduced First Nations people and places into “For Better or For Worse”, her cartoon strip carried by over 2,000 newspapers in 22 countries.