CFWE-FM - The Native Perspective

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A history of CFWE


In 1986, AMMSA established CFWE-FM, a radio station located in Edmonton for broadcast through a satellite network to 48 communities and settlements throughout northern Alberta (and across North America via satellite). One word that may be used to classify CFWE's programming may be "diversified". Programs broadcast on CFWE may be grouped under such general classifications as: Music, Arts, Ethnic Programs, Public Affairs and News. Within these areas the focus has been primarily to offer alternative radio to that offered by mainstream radio stations, broadcast services and publications.














On August 31, 1987 CFWE-FM made its initial broadcast as a community radio station in the town of Lac La Biche and broadcast for a total of 12 hours per day. This broadcast time eventually grew to 24 hours per day as of June of 1989.
















Initially broadcasting The Native Perspective program from studios in Lac La Biche for 3 hours daily via the CBC TV network, CFWE has experienced significant growth in its inception over 14 years ago. In 1987, AMMSA seized the opportunity to establish a small satellite network consisting of low-power FM sites in 10 Aboriginal communities.

In 1991, 19 communities located primarily in the northern part of Alberta were added to our satellite network. An additional 18 communities were welcomed in 1992. Since that time, efforts have been made to establishFM sites in communities in Southern Alberta. The network now consists of 48 FM sites serving over 55 communities throughout the province of Alberta.












In June 1993, CFWE moved its studios and staff to AMMSA's administrative offices in Edmonton. AMMSA continued to develop plans to expand its signal distribution to include every First Nation, Métis Settlement and Aboriginal community throughout Alberta - a goal that was achieved in 1999.   

Plans were then developed to establsih large regional transmitters located strategically throughout the province. The plans were to provide a more consistent and wide-reaching regional radio service. Regional systems were established in Joussard (Slave Lake), Moose Hills (St. Paul), Fort McMurray and Edmonton.

In 2009 CFWE expanded its coverage to include Ft. McMurray (March) and Edmonton (July) as part of its commitment to a provice-wide radio network. As Aboriginal people increasingly move to urban centres to pursue opportunities, CFWE will be there to provide them with the radio service they have come to rely on.

In 2015 CFWE received approval to increase its broadcast power in the Edmonton region to 100,000 watts. This upgrade will be completed in May 2016.

In 2015 CFWE also made applications to the CRTC for expansion of its radio network to the Calgary region as well as for a second radio frequency for Edmonton. The second Edmonton frequency would be an Urban Indigenous format hypoerserving Edmonton listeners. A decisioon from the CRTC is expected in 2016.


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In 2005, CFWE-FM along with several other Aboriginal Communications Societies have established the Western Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters (WAAB) which enable member stations to share ideas, resources and programming. Programs, information, music, and news are shared between members. The association is also being marketed as an effective means to communicate to more than 80% of the Aboriginal population west of Ontario.