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AMI-tv announces new and returning original series to its sizzling summer schedule

From a media release:

Summer programming at Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is hotter than ever! Today, AMI-tv unveiled new and returning original series to entertain and inform Canadians of all abilities in the coming weeks.

It all begins with the debut of The Squeaky Wheel: Canada, the eight-episode satirical, half-hour news format which pokes fun at the ableist society people with disabilities face every day.

Returning series include Season 4 of the Canadian Screen Award nominated By Hook or By Cook, Season 2 of Breaking Character and a special episode of Mind Your Own Business filmed before a studio audience.

And, the new AMI-tv series Got Game explores coming-of-age in a board game café as six youths with disabilities share their stories in a round table discussion while playing inclusive tabletop games.

Highlights of AMI-tv’s upcoming summer programming include:


The Squeaky Wheel: Canada debuts Monday, June 24, at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and AMI+

Be Loud. Be Disabled. Be Squeaky. Based on Steven Verdile’s popular web publication The Squeaky WheelThe Squeaky Wheel: Canada is an eight-episode satirical, half-hour news format which pokes fun at the ableist society people with disabilities face every day. Directed by Lucy Belgum and Tobi Abdul, the series stars Graham Kent and Gaitrie Persaud as lead anchors Grant Gewürztraminer and Arianna Salara. The ensemble cast of Margaret Rose, Samantha Wyss, Sivert Das, Wesley Magee-Saxton and Yousef Kadoura are on the scene, ready to take on absurd situations and characters, including flipping the script and embodying obnoxious able-bodied/neurotypical personalities. The Squeaky Wheel: Canada is produced by Hitsby Entertainment.

By Hook or By Cook returns Friday, June 28, at 9 p.m. Eastern to AMI-tv and AMI+

Bruce Cook (above) has dedicated the past 10 years to showing others what is possible, performing under the spotlight and proving to himself that his accident happened for a reason. He has accomplished more than he imagined post injury, establishing a foundation that allows others the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones. But what about his own? As the spotlights begin to fade, and Bruce’s life falls into a rhythm, he finds himself conflicted by who he wants to be, who he thought he would be and who he really is. This season will find Bruce on his way to accepting and coming to terms with who he really is after 10 years in a wheelchair. Watch the Season 4 trailer nowBy Hook or By Cook is produced by Render Digital Media.


Breaking Character returns Tuesday, July 9, at 9 p.m. Eastern to AMI-tv and AMI+

Breaking Character is the first documentary series to explore the entertainment industry from the perspective of performers with disabilities. It comes at a critical time when the industry has finally started to recognize disability as the missing link of inclusivity. We capture the ups and downs of building careers while also fighting the battle for representation. The message is simple: talent is there; now it’s time for the talent to get opportunities. In Season 2, four new faces continue the fight to find a place for themselves and their circle. Breaking Character is produced by Winterhouse Films.

Mind Your Own Business: Then, Now and Next debuts Friday, July 26, at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and AMI+

In this special, host Kevin Shaw and the business mentors welcome four entrepreneurs from past seasons. They’ll reveal how their businesses are doing and take questions from a studio audience. Mind Your Own Business: Then, Now and Next is produced by Apple Orchard Productions.


Got Game debuts Monday, August 14, at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and AMI+

Got Game explores coming-of-age in a board game café as six youths with disabilities share their stories in a round table discussion while playing inclusive tabletop games. Got Game provides an outlet for youth with disabilities to share their feelings, frustrations, triumphs, ambitions, and general outlook on life with a disability. But it is not about defining these individuals by their disability; it’s about recognizing the individualism of these youth aside from their disability. Got Game is produced by Mountain Road Productions.

All AMI-tv originals are available post-broadcast on demand at AMI+.


Preview: Christa Couture ups the adventure on AMI-tv’s Postcards From…

Christa Couture is no stranger to AMI or storytelling.

She hosted AMI-audio’s Live from Studio 5 and has been featured on an episode of AMI-tv’s Fashion Dis. On the storytelling side, she has written, sung and spoken of her life, including the childhood cancer that led to the amputation of her left leg, abortion, divorce and the tragic deaths of two infant sons.

Couture’s way of weaving a story is what makes the newest season of Postcards From… so engaging.

Returning for Season 5, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv and AMI+, Couture is the newest host to take over for the channel’s veteran series. The program, which was previously hosted by AMI talent in Alex Smyth, Laura Bain, Beth Deer, Shelby Travers and Dave Brown—and Season 4 by poet Therese Estacion—features Couture visiting eight communities across Canada. Focusing on the senses, Postcards From… spends equal time presenting the locales as Couture witnesses them via taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight like never before.

Couture’s enthusiasm, curiosity and wit make for a winning production. In Wednesday’s return, she heads to Drumheller, Alberta, where she gets hands-on with dinosaur bones, hops on the back of a motorbike for a ride into town and scarfs down a local delicacy called “prairie oysters.” An emotional scene features Couture recalling visiting Drumheller as a child with her mother—and showing off a smiling photo of herself, then unaware of the cancer in her left leg that had returned and would ultimately take it below the knee—before she gets a tour of the area and gets up close with some dinos.

What sets Postcards From… apart from other travel series is that time is spent focusing on accessibility. Couture, for instance, describes and utilizes the paved path and wheelchair the Tyrell Museum offers guests to traverse the rocky terrain. And her description of what it was like to swing her prosthetic leg over a motorcycle before going on her first-ever ride was as fun as watching the smile on her face.

Future destinations in this season include Fredericton, Dawson City, Salt Spring Island, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Edmonton and Whistler.

Postcards From… airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv.

Image courtesy of AMI.


Chef Shawn Adler cooks up tasty and traditional treats on APTN’s Pow Wow Chow

I’m fascinated with the behind-the-scenes of creating food. Whether it was The Heat with Mark McEwan back in 2006 or Carnival Eats with Noah Cappe, it’s interesting to find out how food is prepared, quickly and on-location, for people.

That fascination continues with Pow Wow Chow. The documentary series, debuting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on APTN, hits the road to follow two Indigenous chefs preparing food for crowds at Pow Wows across the country.

Featuring Indigenous chefs Shawn Adler of the Pow Wow Café and Flying Chestnut Kitchen, and Bob Chilblow of Chiblow Fish, their partners, family, and road crews, each instalment of Pow Wow Chow digs into the dishes being created, as well as spotlighting the Pow Wows themselves.

“Going behind the scenes is interesting,” Adler says during a recent phone call. “People don’t have that perspective without a TV show, and it definitely makes for some interesting watching.”

Adler and his partner are a sight, driving a small yellow school bus from location to location, unloading it, prepping, cooking, selling, cleaning up, packing up and doing it all over again. It can be a logistical nightmare, but one Adler has nailed down with experience.

Produced by InterINDigital and Sandbay, Pow Wow Chow is educational as well. Viewers learn about the Pow Wow Trail, which stretches from B.C. to Nova Scotia, celebrating Indigenous culture as multiple generations come together to enjoy food, honour traditions, forge a sense of community and practice spiritual healing.

“APTN is aired all across Canada,” Adlet says. “I don’t think a lot of non-Indigenous folks have ever been to a Pow Wow, maybe they have heard the term before, and don’t really understand what happens. Beyond the food vending, there is the drumming, the dancing, the singing, all of the craft vendors and it’s a family-oriented cultural practice.”

“I hope that people tune in and garner a little more of an understanding of life on the Pow Wow Trail.”

Pow Wow Chow airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on APTN.

Image courtesy of Sandbay Entertainment.


Brandon Gonez checks in for Season 2 of CBC’s Canada’s Ultimate Challenge

There is a lot of reality competition series vying for eyeballs, and one of the most interesting is kicking off its second season on Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Canada’s Ultimate Challenge—produced by the same folks behind The Amazing Race Canada—is equal parts The Amazing Race, Survivor, and in some cases, Wipeout, making for an entertaining watch. And, serving as host is Brandon Gonez.

Gonez, who joins the series for Season 2, is well-known to audiences. Aside from founding his own online news and entertainment company, Gonez Media, he was a reporter and anchor at CP24 and Your Morning. What made him join the ranks of Jon Montgomery, Arisa Cox and Sharleen Joynt?

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel across many parts of this country as a local reporter, but now I get to showcase them,” he says. “I was like, ‘Let’s do it!” And the opportunity to host allows Gonez to show a side of him folks may not have seen when he was a reporter.

“I like to laugh, I like to giggle, and I like to get real,” he says with a laugh. “You get to feel all of those highs and lows with this gig. My job is to be the audience, to ask that question, to get to the bottom of a fight that may be unfolding.”

Each episode of Canada’s Ultimate Challenge features four strangers thrust together into a team and facing off against other teams in a country-wide obstacle course. The challenges are, of course, designed to award winners and losers, but they also demand teamwork. And, that can be tough when you have a bunch of alphas yelling rote catchphrases into the camera and at each other.

A prime example is Sunday’s return, set in St. John’s. After Gonez introduces the team members to each other they have to work together to hoist one competitor down a rope anchored at the iconic Signal Hill, to a location down the hill. Once there, they look through binoculars at nautical flags being flown on a boat, memorize them and the order they are in, get hoisted back to the top of the hill and recreate the flags in order from dozens of combinations. All bragging and posturing drops, replaced by sweat, hard work and confusion.

Each leg features one team eliminated from the competition, with the winning competitors receiving a VIP trip to cheer on Team Canada at the Olympic Games in Paris.

Future locations this season include Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Ottawa, Hamilton, Canmore, Revelstoke and Vancouver Island, offering larger-than-life settings and drama for viewers and competitors.

“When you have a show called Canada’s Ultimate Challenge, you have to go big or go home,” Gonez says. “Each part of the country that we visit, you’re going to feel that on-screen. Our landscapes, cities and towns are so different depending on which region you’re in. This country is full of ups and downs, from mountains to fields, and you’re going to see that, and feel that range of emotions as well.”

Canada’s Ultimate Challenge airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.


Preview: Tripping the French River is the latest episode in TVO’s successful franchise

The advent of spring marks several things. Warmer weather. Flowers growing and trees budding. It also means a new instalment in the excellent Tripping franchise.

And, after previous jaunts on the Rideau Canal, the Bruce Peninsula, the Niagara River and Train 185, the French River is getting the spotlight in Tripping the French River.

Airing Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on TVO, TVO’s website and YouTube channel, executive producer Mitch Azaria’s franchise has become hugely popular thanks to its “slow TV” approach of taking viewers on a trip through Ontario in real-time.

The three-hour instalment begins with a babbling waterfall and chattering birds before a long drone shot joins a couple paddling a cedar-stripped canoe on Lake Nipissing at the mouth of the French River. The duo traversing the first part of the river, called Canoe Pass, are retracing those of European explorers (guided by Indigenous peoples who had used the waters for millennia) 400 years ago. And, much like it must have been back then, the only sounds here are birds, a breeze in the trees and the soft kerplunk of paddles dipping into the water.

It isn’t all just languid strokes on the river to Georgian Bay. Some rapids require a portage that follows trails established by generations of wildlife, and side trips that use animation to explore other facts about flora and fauna along the way.

As with past Tripping excursions, facts about the river, its environs, and the people who used it are spelled out with facts shown on screen. Among them:

  • In 1986, the French River was named the first Canadian Heritage River, in recognition of its place in Indigenous history and role in shaping Canada
  • Its waterways are protected within the boundaries of a provincial park
  • The French River was a vital travel and trading link between Quebec City, Lake Superior and points west
  • The pictographs on Kennedy Island were created hundreds of years ago and are one of three pictograph sites on the river

The 100-kilometre paddle is marked by several stops along the way, most notably the aforementioned pictographs, Dokis First Nation, Five Finger Rapids, Recollet Falls, Old French River Village and Old Voyageur Channel.

If you don’t have access to a canoe to do this trip yourself, Tripping the French River is the next best thing to being on the water.

Tripping the French River airs Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on TVO. Stream it TVO.org and the TVO YouTube Channel.