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A new team has been assembled for EFN
- Kerry Benjoe
For almost a quarter century, John Lagimodiere has been not only the face of Eagle Feather News (EFN), but also its backbone.
Many were shocked to hear of the publisher's intention to end his reign as the head of the longest-running Indigenous newspaper in the province, no easy task given the plight of the newspaper business.
At one time, there were other Indigenous newspapers, but all have ceased to exist except for the PAGC Tribune.
Although John knew his time was over with the paper, he knew the people of Saskatchewan were not ready to let EFN go.
“My biggest concern when we made the decision was (wondering) if the paper would continue," said John. “It was a very difficult decision, but it happened over a few years of conversations with my wife and partner Dee.”
As the years passed, the writing was on the wall.
“I had run out of energy the last few years, but we understood the importance of what we did, so we kept going,” he said. “But I wasn’t happy.”
The newspaper became increasingly more cumbersome, especially with his consulting business.
“The paper had to go or grow, and I didn’t have the energy to grow it,” said John.
In September, he announced his plan to step away from the paper effective January 2022.
Although people were concerned the paper would fold, he promised not to let it happen and true to his word he assembled a four-member team to fill his shoes.
Kerry Benjoe, CBC Saskatchewan’s former Indigenous Storyteller, Errol Sutherland, a digital marketing consultant who works closely with EFN along with Ben Borne and Melody Lynch, co-founders of SymmetryPR, will all hold a stake in a new, majority Indigenous-owned company based on Treaty 6 Territory and homeland of the Metis – Eagle Feather Media Inc.
The new corporation will assume ownership of the community newspaper in January 2022, and will continue to operate it as Eagle Feather News.
“When we received responses from the four people who are now taking over, I was thrilled.” Lagimodiere said. “Ben and Melody are incredible professionals, the paper has a great history working with Errol and I’m happy to see him still involved, and to add in Kerry, who got her start with us in 2002, I know the paper is in great hands. I trust that the new group is going to make it soar, while I take more time to spend with my family.”
Ben was one of the first people to contact John about EFN because he is a long-time supporter of the newspaper.
“I first entertained the idea of taking on EFN a few years ago, but the time wasn't right because I wasn't confident in my ability to run a business,” he said.
However, after leaving his corporate job and co-founding his own company Ben knows he has the ability and the drive to take on the role of being a publisher and advertiser in the digital era, which EFN needs to do to stay in the news business.
“I'm not afraid to dream big,” said Ben. “As an Indigenous-owned media company, I believe we are first and foremost storytellers who connect people to ideas, information and ultimately each other. As we look ahead for our business, I believe this can take place through many different mediums while still maintaining the spirit of the publication.”
Ben knows EFN is important to many communities because it's a source of connection to the broader Indigenous story unfolding in Saskatchewan.
“We are committed to the legacy of the publication, but also growing all the potential it holds,” he said. “We invite people to continue to contribute, subscribe and even advertise. Your support means we can keep doing what Eagle Feather News does best - telling Indigenous stories that make a difference.”
John will continue to advise Eagle Feather Media during the ownership transfer starting this month until March, which coincides with the publication’s 25th anniversary.
“I hope the paper continues to serve the community forever in one form or another,” he said. “Build Indigenous journalists, tell our stories from our perspective and celebrate the good stuff we have going on.”
Although he is retiring from the newspaper business, he will continue to operate ACS Aboriginal Consulting Services.
As the new managing editor, I cannot thank John enough for trusting me to continue the legacy of storytelling that he started.
I am equally honoured to be part of an amazing team that’s committed to not only maintaining EFN but to growing it. Like Ben, I want to encourage everyone to continue to support EFN because we plan to continue to be a reliable news source that highlights real stories from the Indigenous community through a variety of different mediums that have yet to be determined.