After putting in a few hours on CBC North’s Winshgaoug and Eyou Dibajimoun several weeks ago Christopher Stephen’s voice, amidst some very cloak and dagger maneuvers, was suddenly and without explanation to his audience, silenced.
It all started, guite innocently, with an interview Christopher had done for Cree@large (Issue 5.9, page 34) during the Christmas holidays. Long before he started working for the Corpse. In it Christopher answered some very personal and provocative questions on his likes and dislikes. One question in particular dealt with the person he despised the most. Chris, being Chris, answered as honestly as he could.
Chris was more than enthused to be appearing in the pages of The Nation and excitedly showed a final printout to his boss at the CBC. He was told he couldn’t make such statements as a CBC employee. He was also warned that if Cree@large went to print as it was, he couldn’t work there anymore.
Chris immediately called an editor at The Nation asking if it was possible to have the offending statement deleted. The editor called the printer to see if anything could be done and was told the paper was ready to go and a reprint would cost one thousand dollars.
So you can see the dilemma we faced.
Do we sacrifice a young journalist’s career to save a thousand bucks or do we swallow our collective pride and pay the grand? Christopher and the editorial department opted to leave everything as it was. Chris told the CBC he was going and left for lunch in a huff with a CBC executive trailing behind him.
While all of this was taking place a mysterious female voice (could it have been a certain CBC executive?) with a distinctive accent called our printer to ask if it was still possible to change Cree@large and how much would it cost for a reprint.
Not too long after our printer told us of that mystery caller, we received a call from someone with,again, a distinctive accent asking how much we charge for a full page advertisement. The salesdepartment was downstairs enjoying a well-deserved lunch so the caller was asked for her name andnumber. She refused to give them at first but finally reason prevailed and she gave in. It was the CBC.Our sales reps returned from lunch and returned the call. The CBC offered to buy a full-page ad toreplace Cree@large and pay for a reprint of the whole magazine. Another emergency editorial meeting wascalled and their very generous offer was refused within seconds.
Meanwhile at the CBC, calls were made between CBC North headquarters Yellowknife and Montreal with ourhero Christopher caught in the middle. He found the whole situation too much to bear and he walked.
Chris wasn’t an employee, or even freelancing, at the time he made those statements. He was anunemployed journalist in Val d’Or escorting an Eastmain elder who was scheduled to have an operation.
What is Christopher up to these days? Is he sitting around at home listening to his taped CBCbroadcasts longing for the days when he will once again rule the Cree airwaves? No, he’s at hometaking care of his two young daughters and son with another on the way and planning his future.