The residents of Natuashish in Labrador voted last week to keep the alcohol ban in their community.
However, they wouldnt have heard the news on CBC Radio. Thats because the satellite dish that receives and re-transmits the signal was vandalized almost two weeks ago, by unknown perpetrators.
The signal is still down as of Thursday, April 1, according to the RCMP detachment in the community.
It looks like a cable was cut, from the dish that picks up the signal and brings it to the transmitter, said a reporter, who was in Natuashish that week. The transmitter was still working, because there were silent spots when you scanned through the dial, but the feed to them had been cut.
CBC does not own the transmitter in the town, said the reporter, who asked to remain anonymous. The equipment is owned and maintained by the band council, and is located on the roof of the councils office. Whats more, a reliable source tells me that the severed cable was inside the band council office.
Unless the door to the office is left perpetually unlocked, that significantly shortens the list of persons of interest. (And it is not clear that a crime has even been committed here. There is no law against damaging your own property, even if it does have a negative impact on citizens.)
That said, there is at least one person in town who doesnt like CBC. Band chief Simeon Tshakapesh lashed out at the public broadcaster several times, since he was elected early in March. And he certainly has unfettered access to the council office.
Simeon was not pleased with CBCs coverage, said the journalist. (Several journalist colleagues) were meeting and he barged in and said the CBC is biased and is no longer welcome in the community... He then demanded that they erase all interviews and recordings that CBC had of him. But then, he was interviewed by CBC several days later, so
It must be emphasized that Simeon Tshakapesh did not do this deed. He was not in the community when the vandalism occurred. The question is does he know who the perpetrator was?
I spoke with Simeon Tshakapesh by telephone on Thursday afternoon. He said he didnt know the CBC Radio signal was gone, and was unaware of any recent vandalism to the satellite receiver system or cable.
I dont know what the problem is with CBC Radio, Tshakapesh said. I have no idea whats been happening with that. I have no information on that so I cant make any comments.
I called Denise Wilson, managing Director of CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, to ask if she could shed additional light on the situation.
Were still trying to get some more information there, she said. Its one of the stations that is community-owned so there is a local company that maintains everything. We know at this point that it is vandalism. The dish is damaged and the cables have been cut. Theres been a fair bit of damage But I dont have all the details so I cant say any more.
I called Moktech, the Goose Bay company that maintains the equipment, but their spokesperson was flat on his back with the flu.
The RCMP detachment in Natuashish knows nothing about the vandalism, outside of what was heard on the street, because no report or complaint was made by the band council.
We havent had a complaint of any mischief or damage, said RCMP Sergeant Jarrett Francis, who tested his radio during our conversation and confirmed that the signal is still dead. We heard about it on the street a couple of times but it was never reported to the police by the band council... If its not reported to us, then theres nothing we can do.
So CBC continues to be silenced in Natuashish. No one knows how or why. The chief seems unaware of the situation. And no one is doing anything to fix it.
Strange days, indeed.