Radio show gets grant

(Will Huang -- Incoming Photography Editor)
(Will Huang — Incoming Photography Editor)

If you feel as though this campus is lacking in Aboriginal content, you have no further to look then Moccasin Tales. The program, presented on Radio Laurier, is an inspiring and informative radio show that focuses on Aboriginal musicians, events and topics where their goal is to educate the community.

Two Wilfrid Laurier University students, Shawn Johnston and Rachael Simon, host the show and have seen many more opportunities since Moccasin Tales began.

“We talk about a lot of Aboriginal issues within the community. We often start the show talking about events that are happening on campus, specifically a lot about here at the Aboriginal [student] centre and then anything that’s coming up in the news or anything around campus that’s happening,” Simon told The Cord.

Simon and Johnston choose a weekly topic to discuss. They have discussed Aboriginal stereotypes, cultural appropriation, education and allyship and what it means to be an ally. Allyship is a topic that is important for non-Aboriginal students who are interested in Aboriginal issues.

“Every week we feature a different Aboriginal artist, we feature them and their music,” Simon explained.

The Aboriginal artists brings attention to a culture that may not be as explored as it could be in the community. Other times they have invited people who are participating in the community by hosting Aboriginal events, such as drum circles or just creating general awareness.

“Even though it’s Aboriginal focused, it’s not necessarily for an Aboriginal audience,” Johnston continued. “We [want to] try to raise awareness and create bridges between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students on campus,” Simon told The Cord about why Moccasin Tales is not just for an Aboriginal audience.

Simon and Johnston were awarded a grant from the National Campus Commission Radio Association (NCRA) through the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The grant was awarded to Aboriginal students with radio shows to create a radio documentary about residential schools.

“We found out after Christmas that we were awarded the grant and then we had a month and a half to create the documentary,” Johnston said.

They produced the documentary from scratch, primarily focusing on how residential schools have affected each generation and their education journey. Johnston and Simon spoke to residential school survivors, children survivors, university students and youth in the community. They were honoured to be able to speak to people they knew and share their stories.
Johnston and Simon explained that they didn’t want just any music for their show, they wanted original songs, and so they invited the students at the Aboriginal centre on campus to play some music.

“We hope to educate others about residential schools and … that it hasn’t only affected survivors but the generations after it,” said Simon

The documentary aired on March 8 on Radio Laurier. Simon and Johnston received positive feedback. CBC contacted them and asked to do an interview about the documentary and the Feathers of Hope report. While the last show for the school year was on March 27, Moccasin Tales will be continuing next year with Simon and a new co-host. This student will take Johnston’s spot as he’s stepping down after his graduation.

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