OMNI's Ethnocultural Outreach Reflects and Platforms Evolving Diversity
For close to three decades now, OMNI Television has been intrinsically involved at a grass roots level with many ethnically diverse celebrations, festivals and fundraisers. OMNI has also been in the trenches with organizations, foundations and associations whose mandates often include helping to transition immigrant communities in Canada, thereby enriching the lives of all Canadians. From joining the movement for the provision of culturally sensitive care for Canadian seniors to ensuring Canada's rich culture is shared through the broadcast of ethno-specific events and activities, OMNI Television continues to work with a variety of organizations to provide a platform from which each can express their ethnicity.
In 2008 as in previous years, OMNI Television provided support to ethno-specific councils wishing to recognize business excellence within their communities; to festivals celebrating film, art and culture; to associations encouraging involvement in non-traditional sports such as cricket; and to foundations that promote diversity, inclusiveness and cross-cultural understanding.
OMNI Sets the Bar as Leading Funding Source for Canadian Ethnocultural Programming and Public Service Projects
In complement to OMNI's ongoing outreach and as part of the licensing approval process for OMNI.2, Rogers Media Television made a number of important commitments to finance the independent production of ethnic/third-language documentary and drama programming, and to support multilingual/ multicultural public service projects.
Within its $50 million in total commitments, OMNI dedicated $32.5 million to fund the independent production of ethnic/third-language documentary and drama programs -- and therein positioned itself as the industry's first, and only, major source of such funding.
With little or no such funding previously available, response to access OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and continues to this day. Now, for the first time, broadcast documentation of ethnocultural contribution to Canada's history, along with its many untold stories, had been made available to a new audience in their language of comfort. OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative touched a collective nerve and met a long unfilled need.
OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative is dedicated to providing funding for stories that are rich in diversity, that offer insight, provoke new thinking, reflect Canada's ethnocultural make up, and of course entertain.
Slated for imminent release:
- Directors Speak (Producer: Gail Picco, 1704594 Ontario Inc. languages: English and Mandarin) - In 1999, The Canadian Race Relations Foundation launched phase one of the largest anti-racism campaign ever undertaken in Canada. The television spots created by five emerging videographers reflected the regional context of racism throughout Canada. Ten years later, OMNI explores the subject again and the directors speak about their experience as well as how the campaign impacted them personally in way they never imagined.
Of the over 200 documentaries and programmes commissioned through OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative, those with an Aboriginal or Disability focus include:
- Mushuau Innu: Surviving Canada* (Producer: Ed Martin, Best Boy Productions Inc., Newfoundland; Languages: English, Innu, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese) - A no-holds-barred exploration of the devastating impact modern society - combined with a half century of constitutional violations - has had on the Innu and their future as a people. *Awards include: 2005 CAB Gold Ribbon for Aboriginal Programming, same year as introduced by CAB in direct response to Task Force on Diversity in Television recommendations; Amnesty International Canada Media Award.
- Road Scholars: Inuit Adventure Africa (Producer: Jane Hawtin in association with APTN; languages: Cantonese, English) - Part of OMNI's cultural alliance with APTN, this production follows six Inuit teenagers volunteering at an orphan care centre in Botswana.
- Quest of Buffalo Spirit (Producer: Bert Crowfoot, Buffalo Spirit Communications; languages English, Mandarin) - Part history lesson, part documentary and finally part sacred quest - Buffalo Spirit is a three-episode journey of unearthing Native identity where our cultural and spiritual roots grow.
- Deaf TV/Deaf Pride (Producer: Donald Peter Reynolds, Peter Gordon Reynolds, For the Record Productions; languages: ASL and English, v/o & subtitles) - Canada's first information programme produced and broadcast entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). Members of the Deaf community consider themselves a distinct culture with their own history, traditions, cultural events and distinct language. Deaf Pride visits the 14th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf and deals with the myths and realities of Deaf culture today. Deaf TV is a companion pilot. Both are must-see for all viewers - with or without hearing.
- The "R" Word (Producer: Pierre Tetrault, Pierre Tetrault Media Inc., languages: English and Portuguese) Share the experience of people with intellectual disabilities and their families throughout Canada; this stirring profile looks at the lives of these diverse individuals as they face their challenges towards greater societal inclusion and understanding.
- Can't Stop Won't Stop (Producer: Joe Recupero; languages: English, Mandarin) - More about ability than about disability, this documentary follows an athlete of Asian heritage while he attempts to make the 2008 Paralympics team headed for China. In the process we learn the training and the dreams of these remarkable athletes.
- We Can't See you Beating Us (Producer: Adelina Suvagu, Sonia Productions; languages: English, Portuguese) - A chronicle of the struggles endured by Canadians of various cultures, genders and backgrounds after they lose their vision.
- Renee Famous Professional (Producer: Susan Nation, Hop To It Productions; languages: English, Mandarin) - Renee Rodriquez is 20 years old and not expected to live beyond 21; she has degenerative congenital muscular dystrophy. But that has not dimmed in any way her intensely positive attitude and her wanting to give back to the community. Her motto is "Suck it up Princess."
Further information about these and other uniquely Canadian stories is available at http://www.omnitv.ca/ontario/tv/docs/; funding guidelines may be accessed at http://www.omnitv.ca/ontario/info/funds/.
MULTILINGUAL/ MULTICULTURAL PUBLIC SERVICE PROJECTS
In addition to generating over 200 documentary productions, OMNI's funding initiatives were further directed to other such important projects as: the new Race Relations Education Centre for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation; translation and production of multilingual pamphlets by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, as well as a litany of public service announcements to help ensure the accessibility of important public information to third language communities.
- CRRF'S Race Relations Education Centre - OMNI granted $20,000 to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) to establish the CRRF's new Race Relations Education Centre. The CRRF's Education Centre is a legacy to the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, founding chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, because of its mandate: "to ensure that positive race relations, education and training programs and materials are developed and delivered to schools, school boards, colleges, and universities, policing services and the public and private sectors in general."
- CBSC's New Multilingual Initiative Funded by OMNI Television - In May 2003 with support from OMNI Television, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) launched its new multilingual pamphlets, produced to reach out to members of the public whose language of comfort is other than English or French. The multilingual pamphlets, which describe CBSC services and contain key extracts from Canada's broadcasting codes, encourage cross-cultural interaction and increase the CBSC's accessibility to all Canadians. The initial run of pamphlets was translated into: Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Greek, Hindi, Inulnaqtun, Inuktitut, Italian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushto, Somali, Spanish, Tamil and Ukrainian. Today, the codes and services and CBSC may be accessed by over 40 language communities, including five Aboriginal languages http://www.cbsc.ca/english/lang/index.php. Funding for the translation and production of the CBSC's pamphlet was provided by OMNI Television as part of its $50 million commitment to develop and license third-language/ethnocultural programming and support other multicultural initiatives.
- OMNI's PSA Fund Supports Local Community Groups - Rogers Media Television facilitated the production of 15 and 30 second Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the advancement, awareness and general communication of issues, events or achievements of various ethnocultural groups and organizations in Canada, with an emphasis on diversity and social issues. The fund supports local community groups and helps ensure the accessibility of important public information to third language communities.
- PSAs in support of Aboriginal and Disability communities include:
- Schizophrenia Society of Ontario;
- Attention Deficit Disorder;
- Breaking Barriers (Canadian Abilities Foundation);
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Play it Safe);
- Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (Our Sisters Place);
- Multiple Sclerosis;
- Canadian Mental Health Association-Tamil and English;
- Canadian Race Relations Foundation PSA;
- Canadian Aboriginal Festival;
OMNI and APTN Sign Cultural Alliance
OMNI and APTN signed an unprecedented cultural alliance to further the understanding of Canada's Aboriginal Peoples and ethnocultural communities amongst themselves and amongst all Canadians. This history-making alliance, formed in March 2004, continues to resonate throughout the industry, inspiring positive reflection, inclusion and the development and telling of Canadian stories.
OMNI and Library/Archives of Canada Partner to Preserve Broadcast Documentation of Canadian Ethnocultural Perspective
In the shared belief that Canada's ethnocultural diversity is one of its most treasured assets, OMNI and the Library and Archives of Canada launched an ongoing partnership that would itself make history as the first time a private broadcaster has committed such a sizeable donation of heritage (non-official) language materials to public record. OMNI's continuing contribution will help to ensure that Canada's documentary heritage properly reflects the diverse nature of our society. Regular donations consist of programming that holds national significance and is representative of Canada's ethnocultural communities. To date, examples of diversity television made available to the public by OMNI Television include: an Italian-language retrospective tribute to former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; three Baltic language series; two full seasons of In The Black, platforming the accomplishments of Black Canadians, and Multicultural Canada Presents: Studio C, a five-part OMNI production that presented Canadian ethnocultural communities with the opportunity to share view and exchange ideas. All Canadians can now see themselves reflected in Canada's official archives.
OMNI Partners with CEC on Toolkit, "Capacity Building & Strengthening for Ethnocultural Communities"
The Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC) is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of national ethnocultural umbrella organizations which, in turn, represent a cross-section of ethnocultural groups across Canada. OMNI and CEC have a long established association that encompasses collaboration on numerous projects - among them, "Developing & Building Capacity in Ethnocultural Communities," a toolkit for ethnocultural organizations about how to organize, sustain and develop in the Canadian context. This resource was built from CEC's "Building Strong Ethnocultural Communities" conference, a project that, with further participation from OMNI, was made into a four part series. http://www.sources.com/releases/L030425t.HTM
OMNI and Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) Mark 30 Year Partnership
The Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) is an organization for journalists, writers, producers engaged in the field of print and electronic journalism. Virtually since its founding, CEMA has held a gala award ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate journalistic excellence that both reflects the reality of Canada and serves the diverse audiences of this country. Similarly, OMNI has faithfully taped these ceremonies for broadcast -- and in some cases for posterity -- also turning CEMA's 25th Anniversary Gala into a documentary presentation and then donating it to the National Archives. OMNI Television is a member in good standing and participates fully in events, meetings and activities that support CEMA's mandate to uphold the principles of Canadian citizenship and multiculturalism and maintain the right of freedom of expression without ethnocentric bias.
OMNI Television Founding Member of Strategic Alliance of Broadcasters for Aboriginal Reflection (SABAR)
As s founding member of SABAR, OMNI Television continues to be an active participant in the organization and also regularly collaborates with fellow broadcasters and other organizations to raise the profile and participation of Aboriginals in the broadcast industry -- on-air and behind the scenes. An ongoing case in point is the Canadian Aboriginal Festival, to which SABAR contributes on-site, and through which OMNI has developed and solidified relationships with leading Aboriginal organizations and government agencies.
OMNI Boosts Broadcast Reflection with John Webb Graham Q.C. / Rogers Multicultural Scholarships
Since 1987, OMNI Television has helped boost Canada's multicultural profile in the television industry by selecting the winners of the John Webb Graham Q.C. / Rogers Multicultural Scholarships. This four year full scholarship is made available to a maximum of four students entering the Radio & Television Arts program at Ryerson University. To qualify, the students must be of ethnocultural or native background. Fluency in English and mother tongue is an asset. Candidates are then scrutinized by OMNI's selection committee using three principal criteria: demonstrated understanding of multiculturalism; active participation/initiative, and their knowledge of the role of television in ethnocultural reflection. Since inception, well over 60 ethno-specific students have received this scholarship and many have entered into the broadcast industry, bringing with them their unique perspective and outlook. Canadians -- on both sides of the camera -- continue to benefit.
OMNI Regularly Honoured by Industry, Community and Government Awards
For OMNI's work in the many ethnocultural communities it serves and for airing accessible programming that reflects these communities, OMNI has been honoured on innumerable occasions (over 130 awards since 2002). Since documentaries made possible by OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative began airing in 2004, these productions have continually been awarded for their excellence, including four Firsts at CAB's Gold Ribbon Awards -- most recently The M Word -- Canada's Multiculturalism: A Work In Progress for Diversity Programming and earlier, Mushua Innu: Surviving Canada won CAB's award for Aboriginal Programming the first time it was offered; three Bests at ReelWorld Film Festival -- an annual showcase for Canada's culturally and racially diverse film, video and new media production -- and ongoing recognition from the Canadian Ethnic Media Association. OMNI's staff has been similarly acknowledged for its work in the community, including Ontario Peoples' Top Choice -- two years in a row -- for Portuguese language on-air personalities; Community Involvement and Lifetime Achievement for Russian speaking personnel, and various other ethno-specific awards. These awards continue to be bestowed on OMNI and demonstrate on an ongoing basis, third party endorsement of OMNI's successful integration of grassroots community relations with reflective, inclusion programming. Full 2002-08 list available @ http://www.omnitv.ca/ontario/info/awards.shtml.