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In Montreal on 7 November, a day of reflection, celebration and collaboration was held as a myriad of community radio broadcasters and stakeholders arrived from around the world to honour the 25th anniversary of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

Animated discussions led by a diverse group of activists, including Michel Delorme, first president of AMARC, Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Melissa Cabana of Oxfam Quebec, focused on the theme of development and empowerment through community radio. Changes in the world context since the creation of AMARC, such as the emergence of new technologies and increasing media concentration, as well as new environmental and financial challenges, informed a dynamic debate on the future of the organisation.

The end of the day culminated with the 25th Anniversary Montreal Declaration, AMARC's recommitment to continue the mandate that was set out 25 years ago. See:

Amy Goodman, the host of "Democracy Now!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America ( ), held the rapt attention of a packed theatre of students, human rights activists, journalists and community radio practitioners with her keynote speech.

Goodman spoke to the crucial role AMARC and community radio has played in maintaining democracy by giving voice to people who otherwise would not have access, and how key it is to share information in the public interest. "People need strong, independent grassroots organisations to effect genuine, long-term change. This is how movements are built," she said. Calling U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama "Community Organiser in Chief", she told the crowd that now, more than ever, there are opportunities for grassroots community organisers to join the larger debate - and that critical community radio is crucial to this process.

AMARC supporters left the assembly feeling confident in the success of their work and the contribution community radio has made to developing and empowering so many communities around the world over the past 25 years. As for the next 25 years of AMARC, stay tuned...

(26 November 2008)

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