CBC North

CBC North (Inuktitut: ᓰᐲᓰ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ, romanizedSiiPiiSii Ukiuqtaqtumi; Cree: ᓰᐲᓰ ᒌᐌᑎᓅᑖᐦᒡ, romanized: SiiPiiSii Chiiwetinuutaahch; French: Radio-Canada Nord) is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio and television service in Northern Canada.

CBC North
Radio-Canada Nord
ᓰᐲᓰ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ
ᓰᐲᓰ ᒌᐌᑎᓅᑖᐦᒡ
TypeBroadcast radio network
Television system
HeadquartersYellowknife, Northwest Territories
OwnerCanadian Broadcasting Corporation
Key people
Janice Stein, managing director
Launch date
1958 (radio)
1973 (television)
Former names
CBC Northern Service
Official website
CBC North


CBC North began its operations in 1958 as the CBC Northern Service when it took over CFYK, a community-run radio station in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, which had been broadcasting since 1948.

Shortwave broadcasting to the North began in 1960 from CBC's shortwave transmitter complex in Sackville, New Brunswick. CFFB began operation in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) on February 6, 1961. The service consisted of local programming in Inuktitut, English and French, as well as news and other programs from the CBC network received via shortwave.

With the advent of the Anik series of satellites, Inuktitut and English radio programming from CFFB became accessible in most Eastern Arctic communities in late 1971.[1]


CBC North Radio carries daily aboriginal language programming in Dene Suline, Tlicho, North and South Slavey, Gwich'in, Inuvialuktun, Inuktitut, and Cree. The shows include news, weather, and entertainment, providing service to the many indigenous people in Northern Canada whose first language is not English.


In Yukon, the regular CBC Radio One schedule in English airs on CFWH. CFWH is the only station in the network which uses the Saturday afternoon 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. local arts program block to air the French-language program Rencontres,[2] as the territory outside Whitehorse is not served by an Ici Radio-Canada Première production centre or a local francophone community radio station. Whitehorse is served locally by CFWY-FM 102.1, a repeater of CBUF-FM Vancouver, owned locally by the Association Franco-Yukonnaise.[3]

Northwest TerritoriesEdit

In the Northwest Territories, CBC North airs special afternoon programming in First Nations languages.


In Nunavut, there are greater differences in CFFB service. The Nunavut service is the only local or regional CBC Radio service which covers three time zones (Eastern, Central, and Mountain).



In the Nunavik region, the program service from Nunavut is heard on a single-frequency network of low-power FM transmitters (main station: CFFB-FM-5 Kuujjuaq),[4] with some program differences.

Eeyou IstcheeEdit

In Eeyou Istchee, CBFG-FM Chisasibi[5] and its repeaters simulcast Ici Radio-Canada Première outlet CBF-FM Montreal in French, except for three hours of regional programming in the Cree language on weekdays, namely Winschgaoug (ᐗᓂᔥᑳᒄ, "get up"), and Eyou Dipajimoon (ᐃᔨᔨᐤ ᑎᐹᒋᒧᐎᓐ, "Cree news"). These Cree programs are to be transferred to the English-language Radio One affiliates (CBMP-FM etc.).[6]

Shortwave serviceEdit

CBC Radio Nord Québec used to operate a shortwave service, transmitted from the Radio Canada International transmitter (CKCX) in Sackville, New Brunswick, on 9.625 MHz with 100 kW and programmed from the CBC studios in Montreal. This shortwave service was shut down December 1, 2012 and replaced by five low-powered FM transmitters broadcasting on 103.5 MHz from Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit, and Kuujjuaq.[7][8]

Two CBC Radio One stations, CFGB-FM in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador (with call sign CKZN) and CBU in Vancouver, British Columbia (with call sign CKZU) operate shortwave relay transmitters, but neither transmitter site has the ability to reach the Arctic with usable signals year-round.

Reception issuesEdit

Both Radio One transmitters broadcast 1 kW Effective radiated power. These shortwave relays could be difficult to receive, due to increased terrestrial noise from electrical and electronic systems. Also, nighttime broadcasting on 9.625 MHz is difficult due to interference from Radio Exterior de España, which uses that frequency at night for transmission to North America.

Northern MessengerEdit

Until the 1970s CBC Northern Service a featured a mailbag program on Friday or Saturday evenings entitled The Northern Messenger. The program had originated in the 1920s.

Since mail delivery was rare in the north, letters were sent to the CBC studios in Montreal and read on the air to listeners in far-flung settlements.[9]

The Northern Messenger functioned as a way to provide residents in remote locations with a means to communicate with friends and family in the south during the winter months when normal mail delivery was infrequent or non-existent and in an era before long-distance telephone networks had reached the region.

The original Northern Messenger was produced by KDKA and broadcast on its shortwave radio simulcaster, 8XS (later known as W8XK and WPIT). Its intended audience was Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and other southerners stationed in the Canadian Arctic in order to keep them in touch with events in the outside world. KDKA was owned and operated by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and the suggestion for Northern Messenger came from Canadian Westinghouse. The show consisted of messages from listeners to their friends and family living in the Far North, recorded music, and news and would broadcast weekly from November to May, when normal mail delivery was unavailable. KDKA's Northern Messenger and "Far Northern Service" operated from 1923 until 1940; in later years the Canadian-produced version was carried.[10]

In 1932, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission began its own version of the service, initially under the name Canadian Northern Messenger, on its network of mediumwave and shortwave stations. The show was initially broadcast Saturday nights and, like its American cousin, consisted of personal messages from friends and family around the world to RCMP officers, missionaries, trappers, doctors, nurses, and scientists as well as Cree and Inuit,[11] ran from November to May. It was initially produced by CRCT in Toronto and carried on the CRBC's network including shortwave stations CRCX (Bowmanville), CJRO/CJRX (Winnipeg), and VE9DN (Drummondville, Quebec) - the shortwave stations would continue to broadcast the programme throughout the 1930s.[10] When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was formed as the successor to the CRBC, the programme was continued by CBC Radio into the 1970s.[12][10] During its first year, Canadian Northern Messenger relayed 1,754 messages, and would handle six times that many by its fourth year.[13][14][9]

CBC produced the program out of CBO in Ottawa in the 1930s, and then from its Winnipeg studio in the 1950s and early 1960s, and finally from its Montreal studios beginning in 1965. Beginning in the 1940s, it would be recorded and broadcast over western CBC stations CBW Winnipeg, CBX Edmonton, and CBK in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories and Yukon Radio System on Friday nights, with broadcasts reaching Yukon and Northwest Territories, and then rebroadcast eight days later over CBC's powerful Sackville Relay Station aimed at Labrador, northern Quebec, and the eastern Arctic.[10][11]


The primary CBC North television production centre is CFYK-DT in Yellowknife, with local news bureaus located in Hay River, Inuvik, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. The CBC North television service is seen through a network of community-owned rebroadcasters in some communities in the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut. Until July 31, 2012, the CBC owned and operated many rebroadcasters in the Canadian Arctic which, combined with community rebroadcasters, ensured coverage to the vast majority of communities in the North. These rebroadcasters shut down on that date because of budget cuts mandated by the CBC; only the transmitters owned by local governments or community organizations remain in operation.[15][16] Among the rebroadcasters affected by the closure were CFWH-TV in Whitehorse and CFFB-TV in Iqaluit. Although they operated as semi-satellites with their own associated rebroadcasters, they were licensed as rebroadcasters of CFYK. However, most viewers in the Arctic did not lose access to CBC programming because of the extremely high penetration of cable and satellite, which is necessary for acceptable television in much of this region.

CBC North is essentially a television system within the larger CBC Television network, airing the same programming as the main network (with some exceptions). Until 2011, the CBC North stations were not licensed as television stations, but as transmitters used to redistribute CBC North's satellite feed.

The station airs a half-hour evening news program known as CBC News: Northbeat, which replaced the weekly Focus North in 1995, and is anchored by Juanita Taylor (2008–2018 by Randy Henderson). It was the sole local newscast that was not merged into Canada Now from 2000 to 2006.

A daily newscast in Inuktitut, Igalaaq (ᐃᒐᓛᖅ, "Window", replacing the weekly Aqsarniit in 1995), is also aired at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, again at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time in Nunavut, and at 4:00 and 5:30 p.m. in the Northwest Territories with anchor Madeleine Allakariallak. Allakariallak took over from host Rassi Nashalik after they retired in 2014. A weekly Cree newsmagazine, Maamuitaau (ᒫᒯᐄᑖᐤ, "Let's get together", starting 1982), also airs on CBC North TV. These programs also aired on APTN before that channel launched its own news operation.

Unlike the other owned-and-operated CBC stations, CBC North airs few local ads, instead airing additional promotions for other CBC programs and public service announcements.

There are two CBC North television feeds: one for the NWT and Nunavut on a Mountain Time schedule and another for the Yukon on Pacific Time. All local CBC North programs originate from Yellowknife and other Arctic locales. Viewers with C-Band dishes used to enjoy CBC North in the clear until around 2000 when the CBC switched to a proprietary digital system, requiring a $3,000 receiver.

Before the change to digital transmission, the two CBC North TV satellite feeds originated in St. John's (which was seen in the Eastern Arctic) and Vancouver (which was seen in the NWT and Yukon). Those channels carried regional programs originating in those areas to the north. With the new digital transmission system (now centralized at CBC Television's headquarters in Toronto), the north no longer sees the regional east-coast and west-coast programs. Prior to this centralization, the CBC North feed also doubled as the main network feed for CBC Television's owned-and-operated stations and affiliates, with local commercials, news programs, and, in some cases, syndicated programming and other local shows, replacing CBC North programming and material.

Some United States communities can receive CBC North on cable or low-powered TV.[citation needed]


The CBC Northern Service was a significant source of musical recordings of Inuit and First Nations artists in the 1970s and 1980s. After beginning Inuktitut- and Cree-language broadcasting in northern Quebec, the service saw the need for more musical content. This was recorded on cassettes, which were of little use to many of the broadcasting stations. The Northern Service began producing vinyl 45 RPM records in 1973. The first session produced singles by Charlie Panigoniak and Mark Etak. A 1975 session recorded singles from Sugluk, from Salluit, Quebec. In the late 1970s, the Northern Service's recording budget was increased. Artists were now flown in for professional recording sessions at the CBC's Montreal offices. Over 120 recordings were made in this period by artists including Morley Loon, William Tagoona, Willie Thrasher, and Alanis Obomsawin. In the mid-1980s, production was moved to Ottawa. The final sessions recorded by the service were in 1986.[17][18]

Some of these recordings were remastered by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes for the 2014 compilation album Native North America, Vol. 1.[19]


  1. ^ "The Anik satellite and northern Canada". CBC.
  2. ^ "AFY : Association franco-yukonnaise". www.afy.yk.ca.
  3. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-534, 4 November 2003
  4. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-86, 4 March 2020
  5. ^ Decision CRTC 2001-541, 31 August 2001
  6. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2020-85, 4 March 2020
  7. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-602, CFFB Iqaluit – New transmitters in Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit and Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), CRTC, October 30, 2012
  8. ^ (CRTC), Government of Canada, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. "ARCHIVED - CFFB Iqaluit – New transmitters in Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit and Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo) – Correction". www.crtc.gc.ca.
  9. ^ a b Lorna Roth, Something new in the air: the story of First Peoples television broadcasting in Canada. McGill-Queen's Press, 2005, p. 67
  10. ^ a b c d "The Canadian Northern Messenger Service". Wavescan. March 4, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Radio Message Show Beams With 100 P.C. Audience From Arctic", Christian Science Monitor, October 26, 1949, pg 3
  12. ^ "Bush pilot rescued after 58 days in NWT wilderness". CBC Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. April 2, 1967. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  13. ^ https://worldradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Site-Early-Radio/Archive-Radio-News-IDX/IDX/30s/33/Radio-News-1933-11-R-OCR-Page-0030.pdf
  14. ^ Berg, Jerome S. (2013). The Early Shortwave Stations: A Broadcasting History Through 1945. McFarland. pp. 37, 95, 96, 148. ISBN 978-0786474110. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  15. ^ "April 4 • CBC/Radio-Canada". cbc.radio-canada.ca.
  16. ^ (CRTC), Government of Canada, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. "ARCHIVED - Revocation of licences for the rebroadcasting stations CBIT Sydney and CBKST Saskatoon and licence amendment to remove analog transmitters for 23 English- and French-language television stations". www.crtc.gc.ca.
  17. ^ Keillor, Elaine; Archambault, Tim; Kelly, John M H (2013). Encyclopedia of Native American Music of North America. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. pp. 246–247. ISBN 9780313336003.
  18. ^ Linttell, Perry. "The history of CBC Northern Service recordings" (PDF). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  19. ^ "Native North America Vol 1 review – a goldmine of forgotten fusions". The Guardian, November 23, 2014.

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