The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society is an Aboriginal communications society dedicated to serving the needs of Aboriginal people throughout Canada. Incorporated in 1983 under the Alberta Societies Act, the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society has survived and flourished where others have faltered. The Society has steadfastly maintained its commitment to the quality of its products and its people.
AMMSA has served as the model for Aboriginal communications societies and organizations not only in Canada, but throughout North America. A leader in communications, AMMSA has taken up the challenge and has provided training, support, and encouragement for other Aboriginal groups, communities, and societies wishing to establish their own communications facilities.
The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society is an independent Aboriginal communications organization committed to facilitating the exchange of information reflecting Aboriginal culture to a growing and diverse audience.
AMMSA is dedicated to providing objective, mature and balanced coverage of news, information and entertainment relevant to Aboriginal issues and peoples while maintaining profound respect for the values, principles and traditions of Aboriginal people.
AMMSA was formed in January 1983 to provide news and information for the Aboriginal people of northern Alberta.
A monthly publication was first published in March 1983.
That publication was simply called the AMMSA Publication. That was later changed to Windspeaker after a reader contest.
In the years that followed, Windspeaker expanded and developed its circulation base and readership to the point where in 1993, on its 10th anniversary, it refocused its editorial coverage and repositioned itself to become Canada's first and only provider of national Aboriginal news, information and opinion. It was a tremendous leap of faith and required a substancial shift in strategy and a major realignment of critical resources.
With a 100 per cent cut in federal funding in 1990, nine of the 11 Aboriginal publications across Canada included in the now defunct Native Communications Program closed their doors. Windspeaker was the only publication west of Ontario to survive the federal cuts and was challenged to fill the void created by the demise of these other publications.
"This was an excellent window of opportunity for us and Windspeaker took up the challenge. Our goal was to provide news, information and views from a national perspective in a way that would complement the work of other Aboriginal media, which typically served a much more local community," said Bert Crowfoot, publisher.
"Back in 1993 we put our faith in our staff to transform Windspeaker into a national forum that would be supported by readers through subscriptions and, in time, by advertisers. "
The formula has worked very well. After years of cost-cutting with the elimination of government funding, AMMSA and Windspeaker are undergoing expansion and growth.
"One of our organization's philosophies is to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We saw the elimination of government funding, both provincial and federal, as a wake up call to pursue the dream of having an Aboriginal publication that was both financially and politically independent. We focused on developing a product that would attract a loyal readership," said Crowfoot.
Since Windspeaker's national launch, AMMSA has developed three additional publications to serve the needs of Aboriginal people throughout western Canada.
Alberta Sweetgrass was launched in December 1993 to serve the Aboriginal communities of Alberta.
This was followed by Saskatchewan Sage in October 1996; Raven's Eye, launched in May, 1997 to serve Aboriginal readers throughout British Columbia and Yukon and then Ontario Birchbark in January 2000 to serve Aboriginal readers in Ontario.
In 1987 AMMSA also launched CFWE-FM radio, Alberta's first and most extensive Aboriginal radio network. Originally CFWE was a community radio station based in Lac La Biche, Alberta. CFWE experienced tremendous growth in the 1990's and is now heard in all First Nations and Métis Settlements throughout Alberta.
Currently CFWE serves more than 75 Alberta communities via satellite, an extensive and ambitious expansion plan has been developed to broadcast CFWE throughout Alberta including major centres such as Fort McMurray and Edmonton.
Recognizing the internet as a tremedous communications tool lead to AMMSA launching www.ammsa.com and www.windspeaker.com in 1996. In the next few years AMMSA would work to digitize its collection of printed materials to make available through its websites.
All materials published in print by AMMSA are now also included as an online digital version. The online archives now contain more than 24000 original articles published by AMMSA since 1983.
As AMMSA prepares for its 30th year - our mission is to inform, impact and inspire everyone engaging with Canada's Aboriginal communities.
Not an organization to shy away from new technology, AMMSA continues to developed new services all with a focus of increasing communications options for Aboriginal people.