Northern Canada has faced a dramatic change over the past 20 years. The globalization of mass media and pervasiveness of English is making it very difficult for the Dene language to thrive.
Journalist Paul Andrew is a linguistic warrior. He continues to broadcast in Dene, one of the 12 official languages of the north and one of the oldest spoken languages in the world.
The spoken word, oral tradition and daily broadcasting of these languages though the CBC are vital communication links for people with no other source of information about Canada or the world. Paul Andrew has been that link for the past 20 years, known throughout the north as “the one who tells stories.”
A well-known singer and songwriter he performed for CBC’s True North Concert over the years composing his own songs also sharing traditional Dene traditional music through song and his drumming.
It was his foray into politics at a young age that helped form who he is today. He was elected chief in his 20s and educated by great northern leaders, elders and chiefs about the ancient times, the principals and lessons of his Dene culture. His ability to communicate and interpret led to important legal victories in the Dene land claims struggle that to this day are considered legendary.
As a journalist Mr. Andrew shares the north’s tragedies and triumphs with the country and the world. He knows first-hand the challenges facing his people from addictions to residential school abuse to adjusting to a fast-changing culture. He is able to understand these issues and reports on them fairly.
In all forms of communications, on and off the air, Mr. Andrew continues to champion causes for literacy, language and his aboriginal roots. And although he doesn’t wear his warrior cape for all to see, everyone across the north knows and respects the work he does.