CBC North

CBC North
Type Broadcast radio network
Television system
Country Canada
Owner Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Key people
Hubert Lacroix, president
Launch date
1958 (radio)
1973 (television)
Former names
CBC Northern Service
Official website
CBC North

CBC North (Inuktitut: ᓰᐲᓰ ᐊᑭᐊᖅᑕᖅᑐᒥ; Cree: ᓰᐲᓰ ᒌᐌᑎᓅᑖᐦᒡ; French: Radio-Canada Nord) is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio and television service in Northern Canada (i.e., Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec). It began operations in 1958 as the CBC Northern Service with radio broadcasts. It took over CFYK, a community-run station in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, which began broadcasting in 1948. CFYK had been opened by the Royal Canadian Signal Corps.

CFFB began operation in Frobisher Bay (now known as Iqaluit, Nunavut) on February 6, 1961. The service consisted of local programming in Inuktitut, English and French, and 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.


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


In Yukon, the regular CBC Radio One schedule in English is aired on CFWH. CFWH is the only station in the network which uses the Saturday afternoon between 5:05 and 6:00 p.m. local arts program block to air the French language program Rencontres,[1] 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.[2]

Northwest Territories

In the Northwest Territories, afternoon programming is pre-empted; instead, CBC North airs special afternoon programming in First Nations languages. On CFYK in Yellowknife, which serves the southern part of the territory, the afternoon schedule is as follows:

On CHAK in Inuvik, which serves the northern Beaufort Delta area, afternoon programs include Nantaii in Gwich'in from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. and Tusaavik (meaning "listening place") in Inuvialuktun from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. The Northwest Territories otherwise hears the usual CBC Radio One schedule.


In Nunavut, greater differences occur on CFFB. The Nunavut service is the only local or regional CBC Radio service which covers three time zones (Eastern, Central and Mountain). The local morning program, Qulliq ("oil lamp", broadcast in Inuktitut and English segments), airs from 6 to 10 a.m. and is followed by abbreviated broadcasts of The Current and Q. At noon a bilingual program, Nipivut ("our voices"), airs in Inuktitut and English. In the afternoons, programming is in Inuktitut and includes Tausunni ("smell of humans") from Iqaluit, Tuttavik ("place of encounter") from Kuujjuaq and Tusaajaksat ("things heard about") from Rankin Inlet. During the evenings, Ullumi Tusaqsauqaujut ("heard today") presents highlights from the day's Inuktitut programs at 10 p.m. Eastern. At 10:30 p.m. Eastern Sinnaksautit ("bedtimes") features traditional Inuit storytelling. The nighttime edition of Q follows Sinnaksautit, after the 11 p.m. news. The CBC Radio One network schedule continues through the night.

The Nunavut program service also carries a CBC North regional live music program called The True North Concert Series on Saturday afternoons at 5 pm Eastern Time. TNCS features concert recordings from across the three northern territories. There is also a music request show for youth, which airs on Sunday afternoons at 3 pm Eastern Time.


In the Nunavik region of Nord-du-Québec, the program service from Nunavut is heard on a network of low-power FM transmitters,[3] with some program differences. Weekday mornings from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Quebec AM from CBVE-FM Quebec City is heard, and a repeat of Tuttavik from CBC in Kuujjuaq airs in the evening.

CBFG-FM Chisasibi provides French-language radio service to Northern Quebec[4] as part of the Ici Nord-Québec network, which simulcasts Ici Radio-Canada Première outlet CBF-FM Montreal, except for four hours of regional programs on weekdays, three of these in the Cree language such as Winschgaoug which airs weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. "Eyou Dipajimoon" weekdays from Noon until 1:00 p.m., Âshûmîyi weekdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.and Soirée Boréale, a French-language program, which airs weeknights.[5]

Shortwave service

CBC Radio Nord Québec used to operate a shortwave service, transmitted from the Radio Canada International (RCI) transmitter in Sackville, New Brunswick, on 9625 kHz 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 FM from Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit and Kuujjuaq.[6] [7]

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.

During the 1960s, the CBC Northern Service featured a mailbag program on Saturday evenings entitled The Northern Messenger. 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.[8]

With RCI ending shortwave broadcasting due to CBC budget cuts, and the end of CBC's Northern Quebec shortwave service from CKCX-SW in Sackville, New Brunswick, the future of the Northern Quebec shortwave service is in doubt.

Reception issues

Both Radio One transmitters broadcast 1 kW ERP. These shortwave relays can be difficult to receive, due to increased terrestrial noise from electrical and electronic systems. Also, nighttime broadcasting on 9625 kHz is difficult due to interference from Radio Exterior de España, which uses that frequency at night for transmission to North America.


Screenshot of CBC North station identification
CBC North ident, September 1998

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 a 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 organisations remain in operation.[9][10] 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 an hour-long evening news program known as CBC News: Northbeat, anchored 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 and 5:30 p.m. in the Northwest Territories with anchor Madeleine Allakariallak. Allakariallak took over from host Rassi Nashalik after Nashalik 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 about 2000 when the CBC switched to a proprietary digital system, requiring a $3000 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 centralised at CBC Television's headquarters in Toronto), the north no longer sees the regional east-coast and west-coast programs. Prior to this centralisation, 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.


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.[11][12]

Some of these recordings were remastered by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes for the 2014 compilation album Native North America, Vol. 1.[13]


External links

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