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Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Jennifer David writes about 'miracles on a shoestring' in her new book 'Original People. Original Television. The Launching of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network'
Jennifer David shares a fascinating story "about a little piece of Canadian history" in her new book 'Original People. Original Television. The Launching of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network'.
When APTN was launched on September 1, 1999, Jennifer was the fledgling network's Director of Communications, noting in the introduction she became a "Launch Survivor" meeting over the next decade with the "other participants" who got together "over dinner, or beer, or in airport departure lounges, and the talk invariably turns to that crazy year of 1999, to the crises averted, politics, stick-handled, egos assuaged, and miracles wrought on a shoestring."
Jennifer relates that the talks always ended with a comment that someone should write a book about it, and she agreed to do it before "one of the most unique stories in broadcasting would disappear into the footnotes of academic journals."
I had not even completed the first page of the introduction, and Jennifer had my attention. I knew I was in for a "good read".
Jennifer is the daughter of Bunny and the late Keith J. 'Buddy' Swanson, a graduate of Chapleau High School and holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Journalism degrees from Carleton University.
Jennifer in white right honoured on role in CHS play 1987
She left APTN in 2000 to start her own communications company.
She is a member of Chapleau Cree First Nation.
Even the nine chapter titles such as 'The Death of a Thousand Cuts and the Launch of Television Northern Canada', PRE-PRODUCTION: The Ark or the Titanic?' or 'The Sleepless Summer' contribute to moving the story along.
I particularly enjoyed Jennifer's anecdotal introduction in the Backstory to Chapter One, 'A Neutron Bomb - Aboriginal People Respond to Early Film and Television' where she very effectively captures the oral storytelling tradition of First Nation people.
For example on Launch Day, Septemberr 1, 1999, at six a.m. she writes that everyone in Winnipeg knows 'The Forks' east of downtown an open area where the Assiniboine River flows into the Red River -- a sacred and ancient gathering place for First Nation people.
She notes that at one time it was a hub for the fur trade where generations of Metis gathered to sell their furs to the Hudson's Bay and Northwest Companies. "Today The Forks hosts a gathering of a different sort, but with echoes of the past --a new meeting of peoples, a new kind of trade" Just one of Jennifer's metaphorical blendings of past and present.
Jennifer's description of the Circle where people have gathered for a ceremony on the day APTN is launched, is a great piece of writing. About herself she writes, I'm trying to breathe deeply and find some stillness in the moment, in the smoke of sage and sweetgrass and the crisp morning air." As APTN's Director of Communications, she had a busy day ahead of her.
Fast forward to Chapter Nine at 6:58 p.m where Jennifer starts by telling the reader, "APTN was born prematurely."
Apparently, the first shot that 9 million Canadians were supposed to see was an image of a sunrise with the voice of Gordon Tootoosis, one of Canada's best known Aboriginal actors welcoming and introducing the new network. But a glitch occurred as the uplink went live at 6:58 p.m. and they saw the stage at The Forks with Alika Fontaine, a member of the musical group Fifth Generation warming up the crowd. Nobody really noticed the glitch.
Chapter Nine then consists of a series of anecdotes about that historic evening. Most impressive way to end the book with other people's voices and impressions.
"...tonight we put on a hell of a show. And today had been a day for the history books." The oral tradition of First Nation peoples continued in a new media!
Writing about Jennifer's book, Keith Spicer, the former chair of the CRTC wrote: "This is a vital story told with brio by Jennifer David. No dry history, her book is more like a detective novel. It's a gripping tale about a little known part of Canada's broadcasting mosaic. It's packed with unforeseeable zigzags, and especially with colourful, outside characters -- Canadians -- and not just aboriginal ones -- should read this. First, because it's an important story. Second, because it's truly entertaining."
In her dedication, Jennifer remembers her Dad, Keith J 'Buddy' Swanson, a wonderful storyteller in his own right, who died in 2011. She wrote, "To my Dad, for a life of inspiration, And if he was still here, he would have been this book's greatest promoter." Indeed he would have been Jennifer.
'Original People. Original Television. The Launching of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network' by Jennifer David, published by Debwe Communications Inc, www.debwe.ca is on sale starting September 1, 2012. My email is email@example.com
YOU CAN ORDER BOOK DIRECT FROM JENNIFER!!!!!!!!! SEND CHEQUE OR MONEY ORDER TO JENNIFER DAVID IN AMOUNT OF $28.00 AT