For its role in promoting cultural diversity in the local community, UFV’s campus radio station was one of two organizations recognized in the Outreach and Marketing category at the 9th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards held on March 4 at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre in Abbotsford.
CIVL Radio Society President and long-time supporter of the fledgling radio station Dustin Ellis called the award ceremony “intensely inspiring.”
“Being around all of these people who are championing the cause of cultural diversity [was] really exciting,” he shared.
According to Ellis, the station was recognized for its advocacy of multilingual broadcasting. The station currently broadcasts in Punjabi and Spanish with plans to introduce Indigenous language programming in the future.
“The large Punjabi population of Abbotsford by and large has been underserviced in the area because all of the Punjabi language broadcasting is done in Richmond and Surrey,” he explained. “We’re able to do a certain amount of third language programming and we’ve embraced that because the community is ready for it and it really wants that service.”
Although CIVL only started transmitting on the 101.7 FM frequency late last summer, this month marks the third anniversary of the station’s first online broadcast.
“It was a major milestone in March 2008 when we started broadcasting on the Internet,” said Ellis. “Looking back, had we not done that, the programming talent we have now would be at a less mature and honed state.”
While the award comes as welcome public recognition of the tremendous time and effort that goes into the daily operations of CIVL radio, Ellis explained that station volunteers feel the reward of their work every day.
“The people I work with and the people you may meet at CIVL radio inspire me because they’re really happy to be there and they’re really happy to participate,” he said. “On a daily level, their engagement is their reward.”
Station Manager Aaron Levy said that he felt “very honoured” when CIVL was announced as one of the winners at last week’s awards ceremony.
“I was proud that our volunteers could go up on stage and get some exposure and applause for all of the amazing work they do… I was excited when we were nominated, and to see the list of nominees… was a thrill, just because of the high quality and notoriety of other nominees in our categories.”
CIVL was also nominated in the Inclusive Environment category, but the award ultimately went to the Chilliwack Library.
“I was slightly nervous when we didn’t win the Inclusiveness Award, because I thought that was our strong suit,” said Levy, “so when the Marketing/Outreach award came up, I was ready to go home empty handed, and still felt great about being at the awards and having CIVL represented to all of these important community partners.”
Over 400 people were in attendance for the sold-out event, including Abbotsford South MLA John Van Dongen, Mission Mayor James Atebe, and a number of Abbotsford City Councillors.
Levy is hopeful that the increased attention and visibility the station has received because of the award win will translate into increased listenership and community involvement.
“CIVL wants to be a community hub that all individuals and organizations interested in community arts, news, events, debate, discussion, promotion, and music can look to as their source for it in the Fraser Valley,” said Levy. “We want to help promote messages, teach skills, and assist in making connections for the communities of the University of the Fraser Valley.”
He explained that CIVL encourages discussion and activity supporting diversity and inclusiveness in its policies and practices.
“CIVL accepts volunteers and tries to serve listeners of all backgrounds, lifestyles, interests, and cultures,” said Levy. “Community organizations can promote themselves through CIVL as well as inform listeners about important issues through our public service announcements and community promos.”
According to Dustin Ellis, media accessibility for community members and students remains a top priority at CIVL.
“Access is huge for our organization,” he noted. “CIVL radio, on every level, tries to be an organization that the public really owns.”
Reflecting on the award win, Ellis considered how CIVL can continue to promote cultural diversity and strive to better itself as it rapidly expands.
“The real question for me is: what does it mean looking forward? What does it mean in terms of how we make our policy and how thoughtful we are about other cultures? Here we’ve got this award and clearly I think there are some good reasons for our winning it, but how do we do better? I think a lot of that is going to be in promoting and helping to kind of carry the torch forward with the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards.”