In the wake of La Loche’s school shooting, northwestern Saskatchewan is showing just how important its local stations are.

Radio and TV auctions in La Loche, Ile-a-la-Crosse, Beauval and Patuanak have raised thousands for the victims’ families.

In the midst of all this, Ile-a-la Crosse is fitting in a grand opening for its new radio and TV station.

Ile-a-la-Crosse Communications Society Inc’s (ICSI’s) old building had some big-time issues. They needed jacks underneath to hold it up, and anytime new technology was brought in, breakers would blow.

But gathering the funds for a new building required hundreds of thousands in development grants, and in the old office, pinching pennies where they could. That meant simple things like switching to a cheaper coffee brand in the office, said general manager Jansen Corrigal.

The truly local station – CILX – is owned by the Northern Village of Ile-a-la Crosse, and is run through a board of directors. It was that board that mandated a local-focused build, so 90 per cent of the funds spent on the new building were spent locally. This covers construction materials, the company hired to do the work, and all contracting work.

Corrigal says that’s what ICSI is all about.

“So it was great to keep that money in the community, I mean that’s a lot of money that goes back into the pockets of our people, and they in turn spend the money at the store,” he said.

Earlier this week, the station launched into action to help their neighbours in La Loche.

“I approached the board of directors who wasted no time in showing their support because we do have a policy on auctions, like there’s certain criteria that have to be met but I think in this case we made an exception just because of the tragedy,” Corrigal said.

They raised more than $8,000 and other communities were similarly generous.

The new equipment hasn’t completely let go of the past – they’re broadcasting in both analog and digital to make things easier for the Elders.

Beyond that, Corrigal says this entire project – which he was the project manager on – will help him to guide future construction in Ile-a-la Crosse.

The future plan is to become an internet service provider.

Right now, Sasktel is the only service available, and many don’t like the spotty service, Corrigal said.