Gimaa Radio was the dream of Carl Beam, RCA and recipient Governor General Award for Excellence in Visual Arts. As an artist, Carl was interested in all forms of knowledge and the transmission of ideas. Having been sent to Garnier Residential School as a child, where he was abused until he could no longer speak Ojibwe, he knew first hand the importance of language, and what retaining one's mother tongue meant for one's identity, culture, confidence, and self-expression.
Carl and his wife Ann were great friends with Algis and Aldona Tribinevicius. Algis was a H.A.M. radio operator, as well as a radio enthusiast. The idea for an Ojibwe language radio station was born out of a conversation amongst the four of these friends. Such a station would broadcast in the Ojibwe language, in order to help anyone listening to improve their fluency via hearing the language being spoken at any time. In this way, the station would then serve as a language and cultural recovery tool in the face of the overwhelming prevalence of the English language. Carl decided to start a pirate station.
Algis and Aldona went to Free Radio Berkeley (who provide instruction in FM tech for Indigenous grassroots groups) located in California, during a 2004 vacation, where they built a low power FM transmitter. When they came back they taped the antenna to the porch of Carl and Ann's house and did one broadcast. There was music and a live prayer in Ojibwe, and thus GIMA radio was born ("Gimaa" meaning Chief in Ojibwe). At the time it was hard to find someone who could be the announcer for the amount of hours needed, and the technology needed was out of reach. In 2005 Carl passed away after receiving the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Visual and Media Art.
In 2007 his daughter, Anong Beam decided to see his dream to fruition and make GIMA a reality. She decided it would be best to get a radio licence, having no idea how hard it would be and how long it would take. Many snags were encountered, but many people helped along the way. Eventually, on June 16, 2010, a CRTC decision came through in favour of GIMA Radio Not For Profit. And thus, 88.9 CHYF FM was free to begin steps toward broadcasting.
UCCMM Maamwi Naadamadaa Affiliated Programs and Services have put their support into the radio station, which lead to Gimaa Radio's relaunch on August 7, 2015 at the Three Fires Confederacy Gathering in M'Chigeeng First Nation.
Today, the radio employs two full-time staff and some part-time staff who gather stories and develop content that is shared online here, and at 88.9 fm M'Chigeeng, If you would like to support our work or get involved contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are grateful to acknowledge support from Canadian Heritage Northern Aboriginal Broadcasting Program! Miigwech! Miigwetch!