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Cover art by: Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley


Disclaimer: This landmark report is meant to serve as a starting point. JHR recognizes that both sections are not all-encompassing nor exhaustive in scope. As a result of provincial based funding, these reports only look at education in First Nation communities and post-secondary media schools in Ontario. JHR recognizes that the selection of communities polled is only a portion of the population of First Nations within Ontario. These findings can and should be expanded upon in the future.  


Since 2013, Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) has been embarking on a journey to challenge Canadian journalists to tell better Indigenous stories. Ambitious in nature and far-reaching in scope, the Indigenous Reporters Program is aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of Indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media. Through scholarships, paid internships, networking emerging Indigenous journalists, curriculum development and design, community-based training and workshops for non-Indigenous journalists, the focus of the program is set on challenging the heretofore accepted standard of delivering subpar Indigenous stories to an assumed disinterested audience. The needs assessment which influenced the design of the program involved hundreds of interviews with Indigenous people, journalists and academics, all of whom were asked for their views on the challenges with how Indigenous stories were presented in Canadian media. Two clear criticisms emerged: Indigenous stories are underrepresented in media and, when they are reported on, tend to be problem-based. In order to quantify these results, JHR has conducted media monitoring studies that tracked Indigenous stories across Ontario. The results: from 2013-2016 only 0.5 per cent of print and online news media stories in Ontario covered Indigenous stories, which is nowhere near the proportional representation of the approximately 2.5 per cent of individuals who identify as Indigenous in the 2016 Canadian census within Ontario.1 Since 2013, JHR has awarded 27 scholarships to emerging Indigenous journalism students, facilitated 29 paid internships to young Indigenous journalists (20 of whom are now working in the media industry), trained over to 1,400 non-Indigenous journalists and journalism students in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Yukon, hosted the first Indigenous reporters conference to connect working, emerging and community based Indigenous journalists, and facilitated journalism and media literacy training in 21 remote Ontario First Nations and 1 Manitoba First Nation. Over 400 community members have been intensively trained on the basics of freelance journalism and produced over 650 stories and news bulletins to date for local and national outlets, sharing Indigenous perspectives to an audience of over 2.2 million people. Media literacy training has engaged over 1000 community members. The organization is currently working to expand and scale the program across Canada.


FOREWORD........................................................................................................................ 4 ORGANIZATION OVERVIEW............................................................................................. 6 STUDY 1: Access to Post-Secondary Education for First Nations Students: Is Journalism an Option?........................................................... 7 HISTORY.................................................................................................................. 8 METHODOLOGY..................................................................................................13 INITIAL FINDINGS................................................................................................16 STUDY 2: What Journalism Programs Are Doing.........................................................23 TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION ........................................................................24 METHODOLOGY..................................................................................................28 INITIAL FINDINGS................................................................................................30 EXPERT ANAYLSIS............................................................................................................34 KYLE EDWARDS ..................................................................................................34 WILLOW FIDDLER................................................................................................36 DR. DAWN LAVELL-HARVARD............................................................................40 MARTHA TROIAN.................................................................................................42 DUNCAN MCCUE................................................................................................44 CONCLUSIONS.................................................................................................................48 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND THANKS..........................................................................49 GLOSSARY.........................................................................................................................50 REFERENCES.....................................................................................................................52

 


Since 2002, Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), Canada’s leading media development organization, has trained over 15,600 journalists in 28 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Canada to report ethically and effectively on human rights issues. In 2013, the organization launched its first project in Canada: the Indigenous Reporters Program (IRP). The IRP seeks to increase the quality and quantity of Indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media.

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Webequie First Nation


This section is meant to be a brief, consolidated history and provide context on topics related to the first section of the report. It by no means is meant to be exhaustive of Indigenous histories in Canada or Ontario. For a glossary of terms and concepts please see page 51. By the numbers. In Ontario there are: 1. 2. 3. 4.

46 treaties. 207 First Nation Reserves and settlements. 126 bands. 121 on-reserve First Nation schools with a total enrollment of 12,989 students grades K-12.2 5. 37 of the 121 on-reserve schools offer a secondary school program. 6. Three (3) post secondary institutions in urban hubs directly serve students from fly-in communities in Ontario: Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay and Pelican Falls High School near Sioux Lookout. In 2018 Matawa Education Department opened a boarding program through the Matawa Learning Centre. Matawa Learning Centre serves the following communities: Aroland First Nation, Constance Lake First Nation, Eabametoong First Nation, Ginoogaming First Nation, Long Lake #58 First Nation, Marten Falls First Nation, Neskantaga First Nation, Nibinamik First Nation, and Webequie First Nation.* 7. Urban Schools in both Toronto and Ottawa and programming through Friendship Centres. *At the time of this study Matawa Learning Centre had not yet opened and therefore is not included in the initial findings.

Colonization of Education The current federally funded education system in First Nation communities in Ontario dates back to the 1600s and is directly connected to assimilationist policies of the British North America Act of 1867 and The Indian Act. The Indian Act, as explained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Final Report: “made Indians wards of the state, unable to vote in provincial or federal elections or enter the professions if they did not surrender their status, and severely limited their freedom to participate in spiritual and cultural practices.�3


Historically, European influence on education for and in First Nation communities focused on eliminating traditional learning methods, nomadic lifestyles and Indigenous cultures. In the 19th century, the Canadian federal government believed Indigenous people would be the most successful if they adopted Christianity, learned English and assimilated to European-Canadian customs. The government’s aggressive assimilation policy was thought to be more easily imposed on children, who were thought to be easier to shape and influence than adults.4 As a result, this aggressive assimilation policy was implemented through state sanctioned and funded, often church-run, residential schools that were first established in the late 1800s. Indigenous children were forced to leave their families, homes and communities to attend boarding schools where students were often subjected to violence and sexual abuse. As stated in the TRC Final Report, residential schools were a deliberate and planned attack to suppress Indigenous identity, language, culture, family, and spirituality.5 For almost 200 years residential schools operated under the control of the church and in cooperation with the federal government. The last school, The Gordon Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, closed in 1996. Since 1967, education for ‘Status Indians’ fell under the responsibility of the federal government and ‘non-status’, Métis, and Inuit under provincial responsibility. Throughout the history of residential schools in Canada, there have been movements against the colonization of the education system. In 1972, the Assembly of First Nations released the “Indian Control of Indian Education” policy paper. The policy called for First Nations communities to have control over and improve their own education system while also holding the Federal government accountable. Since that time, Indigenous leaders and organizations have tirelessly continued to stress the importance of Indigenous partnerships and leadership in the development and implementation of Indigenous school curriculum and policy. In response, the federal government introduced The First Nations’ Control of First Nations Education Act (Bill C-33) in 2014 that was later rejected by the Assembly of First Nations, citing a lack of consultation on the bill. In 2017 the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement (Bill C-61) was passed in Ontario. It was the first of its kind in the province. The bill stated: “The Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement (ANEA) is a self-government agreement between Canada and 23 Anishinabek First Nations that recognizes First Nation control over Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education onreserve. The ANEA will provide reliable funding to operate the stand-alone AES (Anishinabek Education System), a new education system parallel to the


Ontario education system, where Participating First Nations (PFNs) have full control over the delivery of educational programs and services and how to best allocate education funding.�6 The challenges of curriculum development, a lack of funding, availability of certified teachers in communities, and safe and reliable infrastructure for classes have been consistent concerns for many communities. Organizations such as Shannen’s Dream*, Teach For Canada* and Indspire* (among others) have sought to bridge resource and funding gaps and call attention to the challenges many First Nations students


face in the province. However, the federal government, the body still responsible for education on-reserve, has yet to make tangible system-wide changes to better support Indigenous students in Ontario. Treaty Rights, Education, and Continued Gaps There are 70 historic treaties recognized by the Government of Canada, 46 of which are within Ontario.7 Treaty documents are recognized by the Constitution and address Treaty Rights formalizing the relationship between the Crown (federal government) and Indigenous people in Canada. They solidify the promised nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous communities and the federal government and the sovereignty of Indigenous communities. The original seven (7) treaties recognize education as an inherent right. There is little variation amongst them. In them, it was agreed that education would be financially supported by the federal government, controlled by Indigenous communities, and free for those who attended.8 Yet for decades funding and resource gaps from the lack of federal government support has inhibited the provision of quality and equal education in many First Nation communities in Ontario. A 2013 study reported that students on-reserve received 30 per cent less funding than students under provincial jurisdiction.9 These funding and resource gaps in education are not new. Before the TRC was completed, the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) sought to examine the historical relationship between Canada and Indigenous people. This inquiry included a detailed description of how reconciliation might be achieved by providing recommendations. The RCAP identified education as one of the key areas of improvement for the federal government. In recommendation 3.5.20 the RCAP reads: “The government of Canada recognize and fulfil its obligations to treaty nations by supporting a full range of education services including post-secondary education, for members of treaty nations where a promise of education appears in treaty texts, related documents or oral histories of the parties involved.� (RCAP, 1996b, vol. 3, p. 689) Similarly, Recommendations 6 through 12 of the TRC final report highlighted the continued need to address gaps in educational funding and resources. Recommendations 6-12 listed on following page.


As outlined in the foreword, JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program seeks to increase the quality and quantity of Indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media. One of the goals of the program is to ensure there is a continued presence of Indigenous voices in the media sector on an ongoing basis. Hence in this first report, JHR sought to examine how accessible journalism and media programs in Ontario are to students who identify as Indigenous. The report also sought to determine what proportion of Indigenous youth across the province are considering journalism, media or communications as a career opportunity. Journalism and media remained an integral stream of examination in this report. However, as research began, JHR quickly recognized that before asking what program youth were considering, it was first crucial to understand, more broadly, if they were even able to attend any post-secondary program in the province. In speaking with students, working Indigenous journalists, and educators, JHR felt it was important to critically examine the following: • • • •

what types or barriers students face to attend post-secondary education; why or why not they might be interested in pursuing journalism; what barriers might prevent students from graduating a post-secondary program; what alternative methods of teaching and training could be used to improve success for First Nations students.

JHR began by mapping out First Nation high schools across Ontario and dividing them into three zones (see figure 1). Zone One spanned across the area south of North Bay, Ont. Zone Two continued north to Weenusk First Nation (Peawanuck) on the coast of James Bay. Finally, zone three encompassed the remaining sector of Northwestern Ontario up to the Manitoba border. For the purposes of this research, as it is limited in scope, JHR chose to focus on high schools that both specifically engaged First Nations students and offered up to grades 11 and 12. This was done to access students who had the highest likelihood of being exposed to the idea of applying to a college, university or other postsecondary opportunities. In each zone JHR identified which First Nation communities had high schools and began reaching out to band councils, First Nation organizations, education directors and principals as well as online secondary school programming such


as Keewaytinook Internet High School. As JHR compiled the list of schools, JHR organized them based on geographical location (zone number), student population and culminating grade. JHR identified forty-nine (49) existing secondary schools or high school programs for First Nations students in Ontario, contacted twenty-five (25) of those and were able to speak to students from fourteen (14), plus a separate focus group in Ottawa. JHR also spoke with students enrolled in the online distance education program, Keewaytinook Internet High School.

Fig. 1: First Nation secondary schools in Ontario


JHR received 147 responses from engaged secondary students. They were asked the following series of questions: whether they are interested in attending college or university; where they want to go to school; what they are interested in studying; if they are aware of/considering journalism as a career opportunity; if they perceive or have experienced barriers or distinct obstacles that would or have prevent(ed) them from applying to post-secondary programs; and • what, from their point of view, they need to be successful in achieving their goals. • • • • •

JHR asked these questions in a focus group setting, with JHR’s Research Coordinator leading the discussion. Frequently, groups were broken off into smaller discussions where engaged youth were given the option to write their thoughts and perspectives down on sheets of paper or brainstorm answers if they did not feel comfortable sharing their opinions aloud. Group discussions were supported by the dissemination of a short, anonymous and confidential survey with twelve (12) multiple choice questions for students to gain further quantitative feedback. The survey answers have been compiled for statistical data within this report. JHR chose to use this mixed method of engagement as the organization anticipated students may be shy and/or hesitant to answer questions in a group setting. JHR, therefore, sought to ensure students were able to also voice their opinion and needs through the brief, anonymous surveys. To complement the feedback from First Nations youth considering post-secondary programs, JHR also interviewed Indigenous students currently enrolled in journalism programs in Ontario, recent graduates, and working Indigenous reporters. These individuals provided insight into what they have or had needed during their time in school and what led them to choose journalism or media. Through these interviews, JHR was able to identify important factors needed for a successful educational path for First Nations students, and in particular what was required for those wishing to study journalism in Ontario.


Considering Post-Secondary Options JHR found the vast majority of First Nations youth surveyed would like to attend post-secondary school. Over 75 per cent of students responded that they wanted to go to college or university, 22.4 per cent were not sure and less than 1 per cent said they were not intending to. The majority hoped to pursue post-secondary education in some form. Yet many students expressed concern their grades were not high enough to be accepted into a program. Many were unsure if they would meet the minimum application requirements as a result of a lack of access to appropriate classes or low marks. Concurrently, teachers stressed the vital need for transition programs from secondary to post-secondary school to bridge the academic gap and support students who wish to apply to and enter university, college or other post-secondary programs to ensure they are accepted and can find success. For journalism specifically, 31.3 per cent of engaged youth indicated they were interested in studying journalism and/or media at a post-secondary school level. Qualitatively, in speaking with youth and many working Indigenous journalists, it became apparent that journalism is not often suggested as a possible career opportunity and, as a result, many do not consider it. Many youth often do not see role models of working Indigenous journalists in their communities or in mainstream news as someone to look up to/aspire to be. In speaking with working Indigenous journalists who were from or had studied in Ontario, there was an overriding theme of ‘falling’ into the journalism field. 42.8 per cent of those interviewed expressed that they ‘fell’ into journalism. Often writing or story telling was a passion, but the idea of a career in journalism was not at the forefront of their minds.


Whether by happenstance or an opportunity that presented itself (in the form of funding or a position at a newspaper, etc), an opportunity to do journalism, rather than deciding to study journalism, had started their careers. In interviews with Ontario postsecondary schools offering journalism/media programs, only one had been to an Indigenous community to recruit prospective students. Multiple teachers in First Nations secondary schools stressed the importance of both having colleges and universities visit the community and the creation of supported opportunities to allow their students to visit campuses and gain familiarity with the school before applying. A small number of the First Nations schools engaged had been able to take their


students to visit a post-secondary school in Thunder Bay or Winnipeg, but many of the more remote schools were unable to send students on such trips. When students were pressed about what they wanted to study and why, 63.6 per cent answered that they wanted to go into a program that they liked and 55.2 per cent were interested in programs if they thought it could lead to a successful career. Post-secondary institutions are likely to attract more students if they make their presence known within the high schools and communities. Classes that were able to attend a college or university visit had made an impact on the schools interviewed. They had all found something they liked and wanted to attend that institution. Barriers, Fears and Access to Post-Secondary Education Schools in community or on reserve are often understaffed, underfunded, and sparsely attended. At times, it can take upwards of 10 years for students to complete a high school education because of the lack of teachers or specific classes available. Some schools have partnered with colleges and universities so that students can transition into post-secondary. For example, students from Dennis Franklin Cromarty in Thunder Bay, are able to first attend Confederation College to build their credits before applying through a bridging program to Lakehead University, supporting their transition.


If there is no local high school available, students are forced to move to a larger city or town to attend a high school that may be hundreds of miles away from home. Some students have the option of attending high schools such as Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School (Thunder Bay) and Pelican Falls High School (Sioux Lookout) which cater to students from northern communities and offer boarding. Dennis Franklin Cromarty and Pelican Falls High School serve communities that are members of Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC). If a school is not within the community and/or students are not able to attend Dennis Franklin Comrarty or Pelican Falls High School, students have to access their education via the internet, which is often not feasible. Many students do not have access to a computer or reliable internet connection. 36.2 per cent of students said they lack access to a computer and 33.3 per cent said they lack access to the internet. Some educational hubs do exist, such as Keewaytinook Internet High School, Wahsa Distance Education and Contact North. However, many of these hubs are not in every community and rely on internet or computer access. Students may also move to attend provincial public or private schools outside of the community. It is important to note that there is often a fear factor for these students in experiencing systematic racism, racist incidents, abuse and in some cases death if they leave their homes and communities to attend school. These types of incidents have been researched and published by Tanya Talaga in her book ‘Seven Fallen Feathers’ which was released in 2017. Repeatedly, the engaged youth expressed a strong fear of moving away from their own community for post-secondary education, including leaving northern hubs such as Thunder Bay. This is a distinct challenge, as the majority of post-secondary schools, and almost all of those that offer journalism or media, are in southern Ontario. For many students, leaving to attend post-secondary education means leaving behind their language, family, friends, traditional hunting practices, communities, etc. 54.1 per cent of students expressed that it is important for them to go to a school that would allow them to stay close to their family and community. Being able to visit home for holidays and hunting is important for many of the students and many were not aware of the possible financial aid to help them meet their needs. The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), for example, offers nominal funds for students who must to travel far from home to attend school. 54.3 per cent of students responded that funding to travel home for family visits would be a factor in their post-secondary education success. 29 per cent of students said that attending a college or university would take them too far from home. (For context, consider that a round trip flight from Thunder Bay to a remote First Nation in northwestern Ontario can, on average, cost over $1,100 round trip.)


Students also expressed concerns over their lack of understanding of how to apply for school, worrying it would be very complex. Students found mechanisms to receive scholarships and financial aid confusing. 43.6 per cent of students said they would want/ need help filling out applications and understanding funding and scholarships. 62.1 per cent of students also stated they feel funding for equipment (especially a computer) would be needed for them to find success in school. When interviewed and surveyed, students wondered about whether they would have friends, support from their Band Council, access to traditional food, and if there were child care services for students that were parents. 62.8 per cent of students said that it was important to them to attend a school that had a thriving Indigenous community or an Indigenous student centre that they could access.


In speaking with First Nation students who had already attended a post-secondary journalism/media program, access to some form of Indigenous community at the school was a huge factor in their happiness and sense of confidence throughout their education. In one case a student transferred to a different school to find a stronger sense of community and support. 54.3 per cent of students responded that having a mentor or mentors would be fundamental to their success in post-secondary education. Over 75 per cent of students also stated that it was important for them to experience hands on training, an internship or other related in-the-field experience throughout their academic career. Getting there: Funding and Options for Post-Secondary In Ontario, there are currently eight institutions which offer post-secondary and secondary education that form the Aboriginal Institutes Consortium: • • • • • • • •

Anishnabek Educational Iohahi:io Akwesasne Adult Education and Training Centre Kenjgewen Teg Educational Institute Ogwehoweh Skills and Trades Training Centre Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute (Oshki-Wenjack) Seven Generations Education Institute Shingwauk Kimoomaage Gamig Six Nations Polytechnic Institute

Each institution offers a variety of programming and resources available to eligible students. At the time of this report, none of these institutions offered a journalism/media or storytelling program. Programming is limited and funding from federal and provincial governments is insufficient to meet learning needs and programming capacity.10 Students who chose to go to a post-secondary program outside of the Aboriginal Institutes Consortium must find their own funding through their Band, provincial loans or other scholarship/bursary opportunities if they need support. A report in 2017, Our Nations, Our Future, Our Vision, revealed that 96 per cent First Nations students in Ontario do not receive adequate funding for their postsecondary education.11 As a result, students often defer their post-secondary education or are put on waiting lists to receive funding. In the same report a First Nation was quoted as saying, “If we cannot provide funding for our community members to attend post-secondary education they tend to get frustrated and angry. They also lose their confidence. Many times, students will not reapply for funding once their app [sic] is refused. I think they do not want to be


disappointed again, so they give up. Once members give up on themselves or lose hope the community eventually gets negatively impacted in some way.” 12 25.4 per cent of students surveyed identified a lack of finances or funding as a barrier. Fear of rejection from funding or programming and mistrust because of disappointment is a common theme among students.

JHR identified the following scholarships/awards/bursaries that were available to Indigenous students in Ontario for journalism students. JHR recognizes this is not an exhaustive list. •

The Joan Donaldson CBC scholarship is offered to 11 schools across Canada, 4 of which are in Ontario; University of Guelph-Humber, Carleton University, Ryerson University, and University of Western Ontario.

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) offers scholarships and internship opportunities.

CTV has several broadcasting scholarships.

The Gill Purcell Memorial Journalism Scholarship for Native Canadians.

CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowships.

Seneca offers the Drew Hayden Taylor Premier’s Awards Bursary and a partnership with JHR’s emerging Indigenous reporters scholarship.

The United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Bursary is open to journalism student applicants when there are no applicants from their original requirement pool.

JHR offers a scholarship program for Emerging Indigenous Reporters. It fluctuates based on available funding. In a survey with post-secondary schools in Ontario that offer journalism/media, 88.2 per cent stated they did not offer scholarships or bursaries specifically earmarked within the program for Indigenous students.


Ogoki Post photo by Leigh Nunan


Background It is vital to have more Indigenous voices in media and the public narrative in Ontario and, more broadly, in Canada. Without Indigenous voices informing and leading conversations there will always be a lack of understanding on public issues and shortcomings in the development of informed strategies to address those issues and build solutions towards a better joint future. At the same time, non-Indigenous journalists, no matter their background, need to have tools to effectively, respectfully and frequently report on Indigenous stories. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released their final report in 2015. Within it, 94 Calls to Action were made to address the legacy of the residential school system, begin the process of reconciliation and rebuild a nationto-nation relationship between Indigenous people and the Federal Government of Canada. As the final report states, “Reconciliation requires that a new vision, based on a commitment to mutual respect, be developed. It also requires an understanding that the most harmful impacts of residential schools have been the loss of pride and self-respect of Aboriginal people, and the lack of respect that non-Aboriginal people have been raised to have for their Aboriginal neighbours. Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.�13 Of the 94 Calls to Action, three directly call on the media sector. The media plays an integral role in shaping public dialogue and informing the Canadian populace with actual and factual information. JHR has released two studies on the frequency and tone of Indigenous coverage in Ontario, first in 2013 and again in 2016. The first study, Buried Voices, found Indigenous coverage occupied 0.28 per cent of all print and online news in Ontario between 2010 and 2013.14 The subsequent report examined the province’s print and online coverage from 2013 to 2016, and found a slight increase. From 2013 to 2016, 0.5 per cent of print and online coverage in the province was Indigenous stories.15 Many stories and social media posts remain problematic, racist, disrespectful to Indigenous people and perpetuate century-old stereotypes.

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84. We call upon the federal government to restore and increase funding to the CBC/Radio-Canada, to enable Canada’s national public broadcaster to support reconciliation, and be properly reflective of the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to: •

Increasing Aboriginal programming, including Aboriginal-language speakers.

Increasing equitable access for Aboriginal peoples to jobs, leadership positions, and professional development opportunities within the organization.

Continuing to provide dedicated news coverage and online public information resources on issues of concern to Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians, including the history and legacy of residential schools and the reconciliation process.

85. We call upon the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, as an independent non-profit broadcaster with programming by, for, and about Aboriginal peoples, to support reconciliation, including but not limited to: •

Continuing to provide leadership in programming and organizational culture that reflects the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples.

Continuing to develop media initiatives that inform and educate the Canadian public, and connect Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

86. We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal– Crown relations.16


TRC recommendations 84, 85 and 86 directly call for the better education of journalists, media practitioners and the Canadian public on how best to report on and understand Indigenous stories in Canada. Call to Action #86 specifically calls upon journalism programs and media schools to require an education on Indigenous histories in Canada as part of their curricula. The final report reads: “In the Commission’s view, the media’s role and responsibility in the reconciliation process require journalists to be well informed about the history of Aboriginal peoples and the issues that affect their lives.”17 One year before the TRC released the Calls to Action the Ministry of Education in Ontario established the Aboriginal Post-secondary Education and Training Policy Framework in 2011. “This policy framework serves as a guide and departure point for improving Aboriginal post-secondary education and training outcomes, and sets out a longterm vision, as well as principles, goals, strategic directions, and performance measures. It reflects the view that every qualified person who wants to go to college or university, or pursue an apprenticeship, will find a place, and that Aboriginal people will have opportunities to acquire the skills and formal education needed to actively participate in the changing labour market of the twenty-first century.”18 A project created by the CBC, ‘Beyond 94’ has been used to monitor the progression of the Calls to Action.19 As of October 2018, Beyond 94 found that only 10 of the 94 Calls to Action have been completed. The project listed Calls To Action 84 & 85 as complete and 86 as ‘in progress’. Despite being categorized as in-progress, and an already existing post-secondary framework in place by the Ministry of Education, this study found that post-secondary institutions continue to lack adequate programing to address the TRC Calls to Action. Additional research suggests educational institutions fail to address the widening gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education attainment.20 With a steadily increasing Indigenous population that is growing four times faster than the non-Indigenous population in Canada,21 it is integral that media practitioners in the country have the skills and understanding needed to report on Indigenous stories frequently, objectively and respectfully. Post-Secondary Journalism Education & Indigenous Curriculum By the Numbers • Indigenous people account for 4.9 per cent of the population in Canada, 1.8 per cent of the population, in Ontario.22 • Curriculum revisions in elementary and secondary schools on the impact and history of colonialism in Canada were cancelled in July 2018.23


• There are 44 public Universities and Colleges in Ontario and 22 journalism and or media programs.24 • 49 per cent of journalism programs in Canada are located within the province of Ontario.25 • There has been a 55 per cent increase of programs with ‘Indigenous focus’ since 2013 in Canadian Universities.26 • There has been a 71 per cent increase in Indigenous leadership roles within school governance and staff in Canadian Universities according to a study done by Universities Canada in April 2018. • There has been an increase in coverage of Indigenous stories in Ontario print and online media since 2010: o 0.2 per cent of coverage between 2010-2013 covered Indigenous stories.27 o Increase to 0.8 per cent of coverage between 2014-2017 covered Indigenous stories.28

On-reserve secondary school student answers from group interviews


This report examines what each college and university in Ontario that offers a postsecondary journalism or media program is doing to respond to TRC Call to Action #86: “We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal– Crown relations.”29 At the outset, JHR examined course offerings of all 44 public universities and colleges in Ontario, identifying 21 post-secondary journalism and media programs in English, three (3) of which were offered as a master’s degree. They were (in no particular order): • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Ryerson University, Toronto * + Loyalist College, Belleville (joint program With Trent University) Carleton University, Ottawa * + University of Western Ontario, London * Centennial College, Toronto Humber College, Toronto Fanshawe College, London Algonquin College, Ottawa Conestoga College, Kitchener Seneca College, Toronto Sheridan College, Oakville St. Clair College, Windsor Durham College, Oshawa Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, Scarborough Canadore College, North Bay University of Ottawa, Ottawa (joint program with Algonquin College) University of Guelph Humber, Toronto University of Windsor, Windsor *offers masters level program + offers undergraduate and masters level


There are two (2) journalism/media programs offered in French at the University of Sudbury and La Cité college in Ottawa. As this study focused only on English speaking course offerings, they were not included. JHR reached out to the nineteen (19) post secondary schools identified and engaged them through in-person meetings, email, and over the phone interviews to gain a deeper qualitative understanding of the progress schools, both individually and collectively, were making to ensure the next generation of journalists educated in Ontario have a better understanding of Indigenous histories and capacity to cover Indigenous stories. The study excluded one (1) school that was no longer offering a journalism program in the 20182019 school year, and excluded multiple entries from schools that offered both a master’s degree (Ryerson University, University of Western Ontario, and Carleton University) and a bachelor’s degree/certificate to have only one representative per school. Schools that were joint-programs or collaborative degrees between the two (Trent University and University of Ottawa) also were limited to allow for only one spokesperson. JHR spoke with heads of departments, professors, and deans for each program. Quantitatively, main points of contacts at each school were sent a survey for completion. Multiple entries from joint programs and master’s programs were omitted as the answers provided by the heads of the entire school programs reflected the school or program as a whole. Nineteen (19) surveys were then sent out and seventeen (17) responses were received. One (1) school chose not to participate, and the other school did not respond by the time this report was produced. It is important to note, as research began for this report colleges in Ontario were in the midst of a 5-week province-wide strike. The strike affected the amount of knowledge some schools had on future programming, what students were learning and what classes would look like going forward. As noted in the previous report, JHR also interviewed Indigenous students currently enrolled in journalism programs in Ontario, recent graduates, and working Indigenous reporters to better understand what their experiences were in journalism school.


At a Glance: • 21 journalism and media programs are offered, in English, at 19 different, post secondary institutions in Ontario • 70.6 per cent of post-secondary schools surveyed responded that they offer a program/curriculum/class designed to train students on how to report accurately on Indigenous stories. • 35.3 per cent of post-secondary schools surveyed have a mandatory course that involves Indigenous histories/reporting on Indigenous issues, or related topics. • 70.6 per cent of post-secondary schools surveyed responded that they do have an institutional framework to work towards implementing the recommendations of TRC #86. • 94.1 per cent of schools stated that they were aware of TRC Call to Action #86. Course Offerings Encouragingly many schools are making important steps towards implementing TRC call to action #86. When surveyed, 70.6 per cent of schools responded they “offer a program/curriculum/class designed to train students how to report accurately on issues affecting Indigenous peoples.” This is extremely positive. However, when questioned further qualitatively, it became clear that the majority of schools were only in the very early stages of program development. Although they responded that they do have a program in place, many have yet to fully implement program/full curriculum or a class. Further ahead in their planning are Ryerson University, Loyalist College, Durham College, Wilfred Laurier University, Humber College and Carleton University. All of these schools had significant changes


in motion or already in place to meet Call to Action #86. Carleton University and Centennial College offer a joint degree or certificate in Indigenous studies and Journalism. 64.7 per cent of post-secondary institutions stated they have a course offering on Indigenous topics in media, 35.3 per cent of those interviewed responded that the course was mandatory. 35.3 per cent also stated that they have no programming on Indigenous topics.  There is a discrepancy of 5.9 per cent between these two findings which suggests that there is a lack of clarity on what is actually being offered within the curriculum.  Over half of schools interviewed identified JHR’s workshop on best practices for reporting on Indigenous stories or, the organization’s studies, Buried Voices and Buried Voices Changing Tones, as important informational tools they have relied on. The schools were not initially asked if they had incorporated JHR’s workshop into their program but rather disclosed this information without prompt from the interviewer. While it is encouraging that schools are looking for ways to supplement their teaching and education students on covering Indigenous stories, JHR’s workshops, however useful, is a two hour broad presentation covering history, treaty rights, terminology, and best practices for reporting on Indigenous stories from both your desk and in the field. It can not replace more robust curricula that would explore histories and practices in-depth. Many of the Indigenous journalists and past students interviewed also shared a feeling of being the ‘spokesperson’ on all things Indigenous when they were in school simply on account of their identity that was both overwhelming and misguided. Past postsecondary students expressed that they relied heavily on their school’s Indigenous student centre and that it was a main component of being successful in school. 100 per cent of schools surveyed answered that they offer services for Indigenous students such as a student centre. Indigenous students and journalists also felt that there was not enough, if any, information in the classroom about Indigenous topics. All past students that were interviewed confirmed that there was little to no programming regarding reporting on Indigenous issues and the programming that was offered


was purely topical. One past student commented that this lack of knowledge created hostility towards Indigenous students and Indigenous stories in the classroom. Faculty Many of the programs are small and have a limited number of full-time or part-time staff. Of the nineteen (19) schools spoken to, only one (1) school stated that they had a full-time staff position filled by an Indigenous person. A number of faculty interviewed expressed concerns of a lack of funding and resources to adequately address TRC Call to Action #86. Accessibility According to the survey only 17.6 per cent of schools offer a form of distance education (online programming, etc). When JHR surveyed students in First Nation high schools 54.1 per cent answered that it was important to go to a school that would allow them to stay close to home. Students might benefit from the option of being able to complete their degree, or at least a portion of it remotely. This could also give students the opportunity to include more stories about their communities in course work and student journalism while they complete their education. 88.2 per cent of schools stated that they did not offer scholarships specifically for Indigenous students in the program. 77.2 per cent of First Nation students surveyed also stated that it was important to them to be able to experience hands on training. Many of the journalists and students JHR spoke with had


found an internship or scholarship which was integral to kickstarting their career. Along with the importance placed on internships, several journalists emphasized the importance of having mentors who contributed to their success. 54.3 per cent of high school students surveyed from First Nations schools said that mentors were important to having a successful post-secondary career.

On-reserve secondary school student answers from group interviews


EXPERT ANALYSIS When I moved to Toronto to attend journalism school, I remember feeling lost, lonely and isolated. It was 2013 and it was the longest I’d ever been away from my family and community. Toronto felt unfamiliar and the Lake Manitoba First Nation far away. I quickly sought out the university’s Indigenous student centre, longing for a sense of community that felt hidden in the big city. I was equally dismayed by the lack of journalism courses in my program that taught students Indigenous history and how to report on our communities. The first one arrived in my final year, and even then, it was a course taught online. As a result, my first quarter of university was anything but successful. In this report, Journalists for Human Rights captures the experiences of aspiring Indigenous journalists at Ontario universities with numbers and data. In many ways, I saw myself in this analysis. First Nations youth yearn for the same opportunities as other Canadians; they believe they shouldn’t have to move away from home for secondary school, and, in more egregious cases, for elementary. They often view higher education as a pathway to improving their own communities, while enriching the lives within them. Like other Canadians, they have goals and dreams. Evidence in this report suggests that nearly 80 per cent of First Nations youth in Ontario would like to attend college or university, but many fear leaving behind culture, language and family, for the unknown. They voice concern over the complexities of school, scholarship and financial aid applications—and even more stressed the importance of going to an institution with a thriving Indigenous community, a sentiment that should encourage colleges and universities to invest in these resources and spaces. More worrying still, nearly 70 per cent expressed no interest in pursuing journalism education, citing a lack of role models in the field and limited knowledge of the profession. I can only speak from personal experience, but I also believed a career as a journalist was unattainable: there were few opportunities for me to build an early portfolio, a requirement for most journalism schools in Ontario. Unlike many secondary institutions in Canada, few First Nations high schools can support school newspapers.


What are journalism schools doing to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action? The findings in this analysis are promising, but there is still more work to be done. We know that few Canadians ever step foot on an Indigenous reserve, and this report confirms that only one journalism program (Ryerson University) has ever travelled to a First Nation to recruit potential applicants. The onus to travel south to visit prospective schools remains on Indigenous families, a costly trend that should be reversed to ensure that First Nations youth receive the same level of outreach services. While it’s heartening to see that roughly 65 per cent of programs are offering a program on Indigenous media topics, only 35.3 per cent acknowledged that the course was mandatory. Other findings—that only one program said it has an Indigenous person on its full-time staff, and that only 11.8 per cent of them offer scholarships specifically for Indigenous students—should alarm journalism schools in Ontario. Where would any of us be without the mentors that helped us along? How can First Nations youth expect to thrive in a foreign, urban setting without financial awards or internships? And how can any program justify not having any sort of Indigenous-related course? If the role of a journalist is to hold the powerful to account, then surely learning about Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples has something to offer. In an age of reconciliation with Canada’s first peoples, journalism programs play a seminal role. They shape the minds and experiences of students who will eventually go on to inform Canadians about the stories that matter to them. Truth and reconciliation and the issues that affect the lives of Indigenous people should be among them, and if previous JHR reports are any indication, our stories are beginning to capture more of the country’s consciousness over the past few years. It’s important to realize that the status quo has real-world, life-saving consequences. On these topics, all students need to be educated and the inspiring voices of First Nations youth elevated. Journalism depends on it. Kyle Edwards is a Staff Writer at Maclean’s magazine in Toronto. He grew up on the Lake Manitoba First Nation, and is a proud member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation. He’s a recent graduate of Ryerson School of Journalism. In 2017, he was a finalist for Best New Magazine Writer at the National Magazine Awards.


The Emerging Voices report by Journalists for Human Rights prompts a lot of important questions which I hope leads to discussions and action when it comes to improving access to post-secondary education in journalism for Indigenous youth in this province. Educating and training young Indigenous journalists to use their voice and skills can help ensure that people and communities in the north - in the province where First Nations like Shoal Lake and Grassy Narrows have been without safe, clean drinking water for decades - have access to the same level of provincial and federal services and quality of life as someone living in Toronto. As a working journalist in Thunder Bay, I’ve spent a lot of time at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School (DFC) reporting on school life and the unique challenges students face. This comes on the heels of the 145 recommendations from the Seven Youth Student Inquest that were delivered more than two years ago. Since those deaths and the inquest, it has been a particularly sensitive and vulnerable time for educators, students, families and communities. DFC and Pelican Falls First Nations High School are examples of how First Nations educators in northwestern Ontario have overcome some of the challenges of accessing equitable education. Pelican Falls High School was rebuilt on the grounds of the old Indian residential school of the same name that operated from the 1920’s - 1970’s, and then went under First Nations control. However, the education systems under First Nations administration still operates under similar parameters as they did under the church and government control. First Nations students still live in on-site residences at Pelican with staff supervisors, and those students attending DFC and the public high schools in Sioux Lookout or Thunder Bay are placed in boarding homes, often with families not known to them. While there is a lot of support for schools like DFC, and groups continuously lobby and advocate for equitable services to improve the quality of life for First Nations students, the question remains: why should any child have to be separated from their parents and community, alone to a place they have never been, in order to get an education that is easily accessible to the rest of the province and Canadians? Why do Indigenous people continue to be the only group in Canada to be faced with these choices?


In this report, JHR provides more context with the background and history of what they call assimilationist policies like the Indian Act, treaty rights and relations with Canada. It is important to understand how these historical events impact current policies and legislations, essentially shaping our education systems today. Modern efforts to reclaim education from a colonized state like Canada through tripartite, government-to-government initiatives such as the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement have the potential to provide the parameters needed to move forward in a new way. In the meantime, JHR points out that programs like Indspire and Shannen’s Dream work to fill the gaps. My mother Margaret Fiddler was an educator in the north. She came from southern Ontario but quickly recognized the need for equitable education for First Nations after teaching first in Thunder Bay then relocating to Sandy Lake First Nation where my father is from. Wahsa Distance Education Centre and Keewaytinook Internet High School (KIHS) were her solutions to addressing the challenges of inequitable education in the north, particularly fly-in reserves, labelled by most as ‘isolated’. The solutions she helped develop required the support of the province. Utilizing the radio, then later the internet, to deliver high school curriculum meant Ontario had to bend their own rules because funding and licensing requirements did not consider the unique needs of high school students on-reserve (seen as a federal responsibility), especially in remote communities. The infrastructure required today in First Nations to run programs like KIHS and Wahsa are still lacking and failing. That is not all that is failing. During a visit to Pikangikum First Nation, the Education Director there spoke to me of how stressful it is for the students to take provincial EQAO testing standards because they often score poorly. The reality is those test scores have little meaning for students and the community because provincial curriculum and standards do not reflect the reality of their lives or educational needs. Like most First Nations, Pikangikum has a very high proportion of young people -almost a third of the community attends the school from kindergarten to grade 12. And this community, unique even in the north, has somehow remained fluent in their original language, Anishinaabemowin. It is everyone’s daily language; children are not introduced to the English language until kindergarten. However, the internet is changing that, and quickly. Children are learning English from YouTube and online gaming at such a fast rate it is alarming parents. For communities like Pikangikum, ensuring their children are connected to the language and land carries more educational value than provincial assessments that focus on conventional math and English test scores.


In Pikangikum it also became evident to me how the need for access to equitable education both on and off-reserve for the youth is necessary for their overall growth and well-being. First Nations youth are aware of their isolation living in fly-in communities. At the same time what is wonderful about that is this quiet understanding that the “isolation” is what keeps them connected to their lands, culture and community. The education director told me in an interview that it is the rest of the world that is isolated, not them. Their remoteness from the more Euro-centric dominant culture provides a sense of protection for the people in Pikangikum and for the cultural norms and values they have passed on at home and in school for generations. The youth are also aware of the opportunities and experiences waiting for them outside of their communities. It is both an exciting and terrifying world out there. In some cases, it is also a life and death choice to leave home. One of the things that makes JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program so great is that the work and training happens right in the community. It is on-the-ground, on-thejob training for Indigenous voices telling stories from their own worldviews and contexts -- so noticeably missing in mainstream media. It is encouraging that a third of the students who participated in the JHR research indicated an interest in pursuing journalism. Yet it is a field of study not often suggested or considered for students. And that is worth exploring why. Also worth assessing are the widely accepted journalistic practices and standards, and how they differ from First Nations values in Ontario. Journalism in mainstream media is used to hold people and systems to account by informing and shaping public dialogue. We know that public dialogue on Indigenous-related news is substantially different in mainstream media than in Indigenous nations and communities. In fact, dominant news coverage is often racist and divisive, demonstrating the need for more Indigenous voices and platforms in the media. Readers and listeners deserve to be more broadly informed; First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives have much to offer in shaping a more just society in this country. The Anishinaabe language and way of life reflects a distinctive worldview of community, communication, accountability and justice. One of the most important teachings I have learned about First Nations values in northern Ontario is that it is the responsibility of the community’s leadership to ensure the overall well-being of the community as a whole, not just the individuals. If that balance is disrupted by community members, it is incumbent on the leadership to effectively address and


remedy using traditional practices. This is where I see fundamental differences in journalism practices and how it is used for accountability and informing among First Nations. My father produced and hosted a radio program completely in Anishinaabemowin for CBC Thunder Bay in 1977. He interviewed elders, recording the teachings and stories passed on to them. That is what mainstream Indigenous journalism in Ontario’s north would have looked like back then. Growing up in Sioux Lookout and Sandy Lake First Nation, my exposure to the news and journalism was the local Sandy Lake radio station, Wawatay newspaper and radio, and CBC’s The National and local radio programming. We did not have cable television and there was no internet. Today, radio remains a vital source of communication for many northern First Nations and Anishinaabemowin programming is broadcast locally and regionally. The internet has begun to change how often community members are turning on their radios at home, although community radio broadcasts are now also be streamed online. However, as JHR reports, a lack of internet connection and even access to a computer remain barriers for students. JHR also reports that coverage of Indigenous stories in mainstream media has only increased slightly since before 2013. We can link this to the presence of Indigenous journalists in newsrooms. In my experience, role models for Indigenous journalists, local or mainstream have been limited but we are also seeing that change quickly. It was significant when Duncan McCue first hosted the CBC’s The National news show not long ago. To see a fellow Anishinaabe bring us news from across the country and world was unimaginable for me when I was a kid watching the nightly program with my parents. The TRC’s calls to action have certainly helped propel Indigenous journalists into the mainstream with APTN News, CBC Indigenous and Indigenous journalists working at other media outlets across the country from print to television to radio and web. The lack of and need for equitable services for Indigenous youth and communities continues to be issues we report on regularly across the province and country, whether it is in social services, education, health, or justice. In terms of ensuring educational support is meeting the needs of aspiring journalism students, organizations like Indspire continue to play a significant role in student success and opening doors to career and training opportunities.


Organizations like JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program and APTN National News are in unique positions to provide the space necessary for on-the-job training and experience for aspiring and working Indigenous journalists - a space that fosters objective journalism from Indigenous perspectives. Willow Fiddler is an Anishinabekwe and proud member of Sandy Lake First Nation. She’s worked as video journalist for APTN National News in Thunder Bay since 2016 where she focuses her coverage on the stories of First Nations and issues affecting them.

“Education is your most powerful weapon. With education you are the white man’s equal; without it you are his victim.” – Chief Plenty Coups, Crow Tribe (1848-1932) There is much desire in the hearts of Indigenous peoples: desire for education, desire for equality, but most of all the desire for a better life for our families, our communities, and our nations. Unfortunately, after centuries of struggle in the formal education system, Aboriginal peoples are still waiting for the liberation promised. Mainstream education systems have been historically, and continue currently to be, integral to the process of marginalizing, subjugating, and oppressing Indigenous peoples. However, echoing the often quoted wisdom of Chief Plenty Coups, Senator Murray Sinclair, former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, has argued, “it is precisely because education was the primary tool of oppression of Aboriginal people and the miseducation of all Canadians, that we have concluded that education holds the key to reconciliation” (TRC Final Report). Education is indeed a powerful weapon – the question is... who has access? Interestingly, the TRC final report and the many recommendations within it do not limit the concept of education and educators to the confines of the classroom. Indeed as recommendations 84-86 illustrate, and as Journalists for Human Rights has articulated within this report, the media have always played, and will continue to play a key role in the ‘shaping of public dialogue and informing the Canadian populace with actual and factual information’ – a role which seems to align perfectly with the very definition of educational process. Once we have left the classroom we all continue our education, consciously or not, every time we turn on the radio or open a newspaper.


Unfortunately, as JHR has further noted, the absence of Indigenous journalists in the media, and the resulting absence of Indigenous voices in the conversations and stories that shape the public narrative has been a longstanding problem as this allows non-Indigenous voices to define the issues, frame the discussions, and provide the perspectives from which we are all to understand the world around us. This absence of diverse accounts, and the exclusion of alternative perspectives are integral to the construction, legitimation, and maintenance of the common public narrative. Those who attempt to introduce alternative perspectives often struggle to have their depictions recognized as valid especially when, or perhaps specifically because, they do not conform to the dominant portrayals- they conflict with what we think we “already know” about Indigenous lives. The solution, as articulated in the TRC recommendations, is to require a better education for all journalists, and to increase the number of Indigenous people working in the media - to cultivate a pool of Indigenous journalists to tell our stories in ways that are more authentic and more accurately reflect our experiences in order to counteract the problematic and racist portrayals and posts that perpetuate stereotypes. This study however shows the solution is not so simple after all. This latest report from JHR analyzes how accessible journalism and media programs are for Indigenous students specifically, within the context of post-secondary educational access more generally. Although advances are being made, this report articulates an all-too-common frustration felt by those of us attempting to Indigenize post-secondary institutions, programs, and courses. While most institutions are aware of, and have developed a policy or a framework to respond to the TRC recommendations, a lack of funding, and the resulting lack of faculty, staff, and resources means many institutions have yet to fully implement the necessary curriculum (a situation which will only get worse as a result of the Ford government cancellation of funding for curriculum revisions). While the majority of Indigenous students indicated they would like to attend college or university, when asked by JHR if they were interested in studying journalism, sadly, I have to admit that I am not surprised this study found many Indigenous students did not see journalism as a career option and/or didn’t think they would even be accepted much less succeed in such programs. Very few First Nation communities have access to the necessary secondary school pre-requisites, a fact which is exacerbated by the persistent tendency to stream Indigenous students into classes that will not lead to post-secondary opportunities. While alternative access and transition programs are clearly needed, as found by this JHR study, if they are not accompanied by culturally appropriate spaces and supports (read as the deliberate cultivation of Indigenous community on campus) such programs will not be successful, and may actually be incredibly damaging as students granted access without the necessary supports quite rightly feel they were ‘set-up to fail’.


This JHR study reinforces the findings of my own research and reflects my everyday experience as the Director of Indigenous student services at a post-secondary institution as we struggle to meet the most basic needs of our students jumping through the never-ending hoops required to access financial assistance, housing, childcare, and food while simultaneously trying to provide culturally appropriate counselling and ceremony, mentoring, building a sense of Indigenous community on our campus, and fund-raising so that our students can travel home to re-connect with family and community (an often expensive yet very necessary means of preserving mental health). For students who have had to leave behind their entire support network and community, these supports must be in place before they can even begin to think about tutoring, study tips, or exam preparation in order to foster academic success. It is high time that somebody has taken such a refreshing look at the ways in which we can better support Indigenous students, and I can only hope that the multiple layers of people in administration in academic institutions and government funding departments will each receive their very own hard copy of this report. If they get around to reading it we might see some of the policy changes that are so sorely needed. Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard, Ph.D., is a proud member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, the first Aboriginal Trudeau Scholar, and has worked to advance the rights of Aboriginal women as the President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association for 11 years. Dawn has been taken on the role as Director for First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University since October 2016.

It is no secret that Indigenous youth hold a wealth of knowledge and creativity. In fact, they are our future leaders and storytellers. This is why the report, ‘Emerging Voices’ by Journalists for Human Rights is so crucial. This hardhitting and necessary report reveals how accessible journalism and media programs in Ontario are to Indigenous students, and how many Indigenous youth are considering journalism as a career. Through their analysis, JHR reveals the kind of barriers students may face when it comes to accessing post-secondary education, graduating and how Indigenous students must be accommodated in order for them to achieve success. It is exciting


to know Indigenous youth are interested in the field of journalism. The report highlights that over 31 per cent of Indigenous youth interviewed expressed interest in studying journalism or media at a post-secondary level. This is good news, given how we need so many more Indigenous people in this field and within all positions, not just at the reporter level. So many Indigenous youth are already natural storytellers right now, many of them equipped with stellar skill sets, such as their social media savviness and home communities filled with rich stories and interesting people. Knowing an interest in the field of journalism and media exists, it is concerning to learn it is not suggested as a career opportunity earlier on. By talking with Indigenous youth and working journalists, JHR discovered most existing journalists “fell” into the field. I can definitely relate to this! After a brief stint teaching inner-city students, I only began my career as a journalist because I got hired as a researcher/writer at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. But prior to this, it was never suggested during my post-secondary years to become a storyteller, even though I lived a life as a multi-media artist, in many ways telling stories through theatre, dance and songs. While it is disheartening to read that only one post-secondary journalism program interviewed for JHR’s report recruited within an Indigenous/First Nation community, it still makes me happy knowing there are many j-schools and media programs offering courses and or curriculum to do with Indigenous peoples, histories and information about how to report accurately on issues affecting Indigenous peoples. There is still a long way to go, but this report shows that the work is happening and it hints at what an exciting future lies ahead. Imagine what this country will look like 5-10 years from now, if we heed reports like this and establish an informed and healthy pathway for Indigenous youth, giving them the unconditional support they need for success. The contributions they will make to their families and communities, and to the field of journalism and communications itself will be immeasurable. Bravo to JHR once again for shedding light on the gaps and successes when it comes Indigenous people and the field of journalism and media. Let’s all begin the work now. Martha Troian is an award-winning independent journalist who contributes to outlets cross Turtle Island. A reporter for over a decade, she specializes in investigative journalism. Based in Winnipeg, Martha’s work can be read and heard on CBC News, APTN Investigates, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, Vice News and Today’s Parent to name but a few. Martha’s investigations have won numerous awards, notably her work on CBC’s Missing and Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls, which won a total of 11 awards including the 2016 Canadian Hillman Prize and the 2016 Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: Investigative award. For her work with Vice News’ Indigenous Water Crisis,


Martha and team received the 2018 Canadian Hillman Honourable Mention. In between writing stories, she continues to write for various Canadian magazines and long form stories, such as a chapter for the book called, ‘It’s All Happening So Fast, A Counter-History of the Modern Canadian Environment.’ published by the Centre Canadien d’Architecture. For this chapter, she examines the Grassy Narrows First Nations fight against mercury contamination Recently, Martha completed a residency program at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity in their Investigative Journalism Intensive Program. While raising a small boy, Martha studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario and at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia in investigative journalism. Martha is an Anishinaabe from Obishikokaang (Lac Seul) First Nation in northwestern Ontario and lives with her partner and their one child in Winnipeg.

At a turbulent time for Canadian media - when revenues are falling, the job market is shrinking, and audiences are splintering - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report offered both a day of reckoning and a ray of hope. The TRC helped focus attention on the shameful pattern of under-representation and misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in Canadian media. It also usefully suggested this historic neglect could be corrected by educating the next generation of reporters, hence the call for journalism schools and programs to better inform students about Indigenous peoples. On that front, this report has good news: Canadian journalism educators know they need to change. Almost all journalism and media programs surveyed indicate they’re “aware” of Call to Action #86. Even better news: Canada has a large pool of prospective journalists and journalism students. Despite uncertainty in the journalism job market, nearly a third of Indigenous youth surveyed indicated they’re interested in studying journalism and/ or media. But if those exciting, diverse voices are to be developed and empowered, the leaders of journalism schools still have much work ahead. When it comes to delivering Indigenous content and increasing Indigenous voices, there’s a wide gap between aspirations and reality.


Here are four things journalism schools need to do to close the gap. Develop strategic plans While 70 per cent of schools state that they offer curriculum designed to train students on how to report accurately in Indigenous communities, the qualitative survey suggests many schools have yet to fully implement such curriculum. In fact, past students report in testimonials that there’s little to no programming on Indigenous issues. This is alarming. It suggests many schools want to be seen to be offering Indigenous content in their curriculum, yet they aren’t developing strategic plans on how to meet the objectives of the TRC. There are myriad ways to provide Indigenous content in a journalism curriculum, but currently, too many schools rely on a single motivated instructor to deliver it all. If a school’s course offerings don’t provide Indigenous content in every part of a student’s educational journey, some or many students won’t be exposed to it. Journalism programs must ensure there are multiple opportunities for students to be introduced to the skills needed for reporting in Indigenous communities by weaving Indigenous content throughout the curriculum, then ensure students have opportunities to practice and refine those skills. Furthermore, they should develop timelines and targets for measuring whether learning outcomes on Indigenous issues are being achieved. As for the 30 per cent of schools which offer no curriculum on Indigenous issues, students without cultural competence will be ill-prepared for a journalism career in Canada. Furthermore, these schools are bound to appear passé to potential students, at a time when no journalism program can afford to limit its applicant pool. Target support for Indigenous students Indigenous enrollment at journalism schools won’t increase if schools wait for Indigenous applicants to walk through their doors. This report suggests the key to increasing Indigenous enrollment is targeted recruitment and support. Only one school reported visiting an Indigenous community to recruit prospective students. Schools must do more to promote Indigenous journalist role models (past and present Indigenous journalism students, for example). Furthermore, recruitment materials should highlight Indigenous student services on campus, so that prospective students can be assured they are heading to a culturally-safe learning environment.


Lack of funding is a persistent barrier to Indigenous students pursuing education, yet only 11.8 per cent of journalism schools offer scholarships specifically for Indigenous students. Just as we have seen industry begin to create Indigenous-specific fellowship opportunities (CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship, Gill Purcell Memorial Scholarship, and JHR’s Emerging Indigenous Reporters scholarships), journalism schools need to seek funds for Indigenous-specific scholarships or bursaries. Engage with Indigenous communities Indigenous reporters are still under-represented in Canadian newsrooms. Likewise, journalism schools have a paucity of Indigenous instructors. While Indigenous content should be taught by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous instructors, journalism schools must begin developing ongoing relationships with working Indigenous reporters, either as guest lecturers or adjuncts. This will bring valuable Indigenous perspective to the classroom, and slowly increase the numbers of Indigenous instructors in the academy. Regardless of who is teaching Indigenous content, journalism schools must begin the hard work of building relationships with Indigenous communities. Community input not only helps develop curriculum more deeply responsive to Indigenous needs, it will potentially enrich non-Indigenous student exposure to the Indigenous communities that surround them. These relationships can take many different forms: partnering with other Indigenous programs on a school campus, reaching out to urban Indigenous organizations, or developing connections to more remote Indigenous communities. Without Indigenous partnerships, journalism schools may be perceived as designing curriculum and delivering content that is neither relevant nor responsive. Offer distance education Both educators and media value innovation, and there’s huge opportunity for journalism schools to reach Indigenous students by developing ground-breaking distance education programs. The report shows that Indigenous youth are often reluctant to move to southern urban campuses to pursue journalism training, whether for financial or cultural reasons. The solution lies in crafting innovative online journalism education, tailored to their needs. If journalism schools lack resources for intensive curriculum development or the technical capacity to teach distance education courses properly, journalism programs should begin developing partnerships with Indigenous post-secondary


institutes, many of which have distance education infrastructure in place but none of which currently offer journalism, media or storytelling programs. Critical juncture The TRC was hopeful that media would engage in its own acts of reconciliation “to ensure that the colonial press truly becomes a thing of the past in twenty-firstcentury Canada.” While post-secondary institutions are in the early stages of responding to Call to Action #86, we’ve reached a critical juncture. If journalism schools and media programs don’t devote proper resources to delivering Indigenous content in the curriculum, recruiting Indigenous students and instructors, or developing strategic, long-term plans, there’s a danger of paying lipservice to reconciliation, when there’s an urgent need for change. It’s time to walk the talk. Duncan McCue teaches journalism at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and Ryerson University, and was recognized by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association with an Innovation Award for developing curriculum on Indigenous issues. He’s also an author: his book The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir recounts a season he spent in a hunting camp with a Cree family in northern Quebec as a teenager. Award-winning journalist Duncan McCue is the host of CBC Radio One Cross Country Checkup. McCue was a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver for over 15 years. Now based in Toronto, his news and current affairs pieces continue to be featured on CBC’s flagship news show, The National. His work has garnered several RTNDA and Jack Webster Awards. He was part of a CBC Aboriginal investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women that won numerous honours including the Hillman Award for Investigative Journalism. In 2017, he was presented with an Indspire Award for Public Service. He was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 2011, where he created an online guide for journalists called Reporting in Indigenous Communities (riic.ca). Before becoming a journalist, McCue studied English at the University of King’s College, then Law at UBC. He was called to the bar in British Columbia in 1998. He has an honourary doctorate from the University of King’s College. McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario, and proud father of two children.


“Despite the academy’s deeply colonial history, respondents identified the university as an important site of resurgence, and one that will become more important if indigenization took a more decolonial path.” (p 224)

Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy, Adam Gaudry, Danielle Lorenz (2018).

As these experts have all stated, these students and the education system at large is in need of change. We know this because the students within this report have said that they want to go to school and that at times that is not possible. The disproportionate number of barriers that these students face in comparison to their provincial counterparts is clear. These students want to go to school, they can be successful—and journalism is a place where they are needed. Our goal at JHR is to ensure that Indigenous voices are strengthened in Canadian media and that the news more accurately and frequently reports on these stories. This is why these students are so important; they are the next generation of our would-be journalists, storytellers and media people. While this report is by no mean exhaustive, the material within paints a vivid picture of how Indigenous students are looking at their education in Ontario and the reality of the situation. Although the solution certainly is multi-tiered and complex, Duncan McCue provides a thorough and meaningful foundation on how we start to take this information and make it into tangible change: developing strategic plans, targeting support for Indigenous students, offering thorough and in-depth distance education, and engaging with Indigenous communities when it comes to journalism and newsrooms. To those that can implement real and substantive change – speak to students, listen, and take action. Communities and students must have control over their educational path, and are more capable to make tangible and meaningful decisions on how to provide better quality and quantity of education. This is a call to action that we cannot ignore, as we have done time and time again in the past. To those who have never been to an on-reserveschool, or spoken to an Indigenous student or journalist, the information is here and it is clear. There is a need and there are things that can be done to make education more accessible to students and the media better staffed, more informed and more diverse. For the youth I would like to quote Don Couchie: Ahshawaapiyohk, mashkawikaapawiyohk tepwehtamowinink, ahpane cisoonkiininiiweyek. Mashkawisiik! Be on your guard; Stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong!

Miigwech, Rebecca Lyon


JHR would like to acknowledge the communities, schools, organizations and individuals that allowed this study to take place and sharing stories, perspectives, hopes and challenges. Chi-miigwech Baibombeh Anishinabe School

Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation

Donna Babiachuk

Webequie First Nation

Bimose Tribal Council

Naotkamegwanning First Nation Kasabonika First Nation

Chief Simeon McKay Education Centre Shibogama First Nations Tribal Council

Sakatcheway Anishinabe School Simon Jacob Memorial Education Centre

Attawapiskat First Nation

Vezina Secondary School

Northern Nishnawbe Education Council

Wikwemikong High School

Pelican Falls High School

Kyle Edwards

Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School

Waubgeshig Rice

Wahsa Distance Education

Jasmine Kabatay

Kenjgewin Education Institute

Keesha Cheechoo

Keewaytinook Internet High School

Nick Wapachee

Matawa Tribal Council

Mskwaankwad Rice

Constance Lake First Nation

Marci Becking

Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Michelle Gauthier

Mamawmatawa Holistic Education Centre

Tanya Talaga

Tara Williamson

Long Lake 58 First Nation

Connie Walker

Wabaseemoong First Nation

Gabriel Karenhoton Maracle

Mushkegowuk Council

Duncan McCue

M’Chigeeng First Nation

Migizi Miigwanan Secondary School Mizhakiiwetung Memorial School Fort Albany First Nation Peetabeck Academy Sara Mai Chitty

Martha Troian

Contact North

Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard Willow Fiddler Don Couchie

Cindy Blackstock


This glossary was put together from a variety of sources including: The Journalists for Human Rights Style Guide for Reporting on Indigenous People, the Terminology Guide of the Library and Archives Canada,30 The University of British Columbia’s Indigenous Foundation Arts Program,31 and the Government of Alberta.32 Crown: the colonial government that is bound to treaty rights under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which affirms Indigenous sovereignty and title to lands, and political autonomy. Band: A band is a body of Indians for whose collective use and benefit lands have been set apart or money is held by the Crown, or declared to be a band for the purposes of the Indian Act. A band may also be known as a First Nation. Each band has its own governing band council, usually consisting of one chief and several councillors. Band Council: This is the governing body for a band. It usually consists of a chief and councillors, who are elected for two or three-year terms (as established by the  Indian Act  or band custom) to carry out band business, which may include education; water, sewer and fire services; by-laws; community buildings; schools; roads; and other community businesses and services. First Nation:  A term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the word “Indian,” which some people found offensive. Although the term First Nation is widely used, no legal definition of it exists. Among its uses, the term “First Nations peoples” refers to the Indian peoples in Canada, both Status and non-Status. Some Indian peoples have also adopted the term “First Nation” to replace the word “band” in the name of their community. Indian Act: Canadian federal legislation, first passed in 1876, and amended several times since. It sets out certain federal government obligations and regulates the management of Indian reserve lands, Indian moneys and other resources. Among its many provisions, the Indian Act currently requires the Minister of Indigenous-Crown Relations and Minister of Indigenous Services to manage certain moneys belonging to First Nations and Indian lands and to approve or disallow First Nations by-laws. Indian Band: is a legal term under the Indian Act to denote a grouping of status Indians. Indian status: An individual’s legal status as an Indian, as defined by the Indian Act.


Inuit: Inuit is an Indigenous group comprised of circumpolar maritime people. They are also found in Greenland, Alaska, and Russia. Métis: Métis people evolved from the intermarriage of First Nations people and European settlers beginning in the 18th century and arose with their own specific identity, unique culture, traditions, language and way of life. Today, Métis people are represented by the Métis National Council (MNC), which defines Métis as “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.”  This historic Métis Nation emerged in the historic Northwest during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, according to the MNC. This area is known as the historic Métis Homeland, which includes Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. Reserve: Tract of land, the legal title to which is held by the Crown, set apart for the use and benefit of an Indian band. Status Indian or Non-Status Indian: The Canadian government categorizes First Nations people between Status and Non-Status: Status means they are registered with the federal government and member of a community recognized by the government. Non-status means they identify as First Nations but either 1) are a member of a community not recognized by the federal government 2) or are descended from parent(s) who lost status due to various circumstances, usually due to strict or oppressive terms under the Indian Act (previously one could become enfranchised and lose status by going to university, voting, becoming a professional like a lawyer or doctor, etc.) 3) or they voluntarily gave up their status, usually for personal political reasons. Treaties: The Government of Canada and the courts understand treaties between the Crown and Aboriginal people to be solemn agreements that set out promises, obligations and benefits for both parties. Tribal Council: a grouping of bands with common interests who voluntarily join together to provide advisory and/or program services to member bands. *JHR acknowledges the use of the term ‘Indian’ as pejorative and uses it only when referring to legislation and legal jargon that the government of Canada still uses to this day.


1. Statistics Canada. 2017. 2016 Census topic: Aboriginal peoples: Key results from the 2016 Census no. 98-316-X2016001. Ottawa. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/censusrecensement/2016/rt-td/ap-pa-eng.cfm 2. Numbers provided by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada 3. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Canada’s Residential Schools: The History, Part 1, Origins to 1939: The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume I. McGill-Queen’s University Press. pg 110 4. Davin, Nicholas Flood. “Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds,” 1879 5. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Canada’s Residential Schools: The History, Part 1, Origins to 1939: The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume I. McGill-Queen’s University Press. pg 162 6. Anishinabek Nation. (2017, October 5). Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Bill introduced into House of Commons [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.anishinabek. ca/anishinabek-nation-education-agreement-bill-introduced-into-house-of-commons/ 7. “Treaties.” Ontario.ca, Ontario Government, 27 Oct. 2016, www.ontario.ca/page/treaties. 8. Carr-Stewart, Sheila. (2001). A Treaty Right to Education. Canadian Journal of Education, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, pp. 125-143. 9. Drummond, Don, and Ellen K. Rosenbluth (2013). The Debate on First Nations Education Funding: Mind the Gap. Working Paper 49. School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University. 10. Erskine, M. (2016). Ottawa cuts its portion of Kenjgewin Teg funds by 75%. Retrieved from http://www.manitoulin.ca/2016/08/24/ottawa-cuts-portion-kenjgewin-teg-funds-75/ 11. Palmater, P. (2017). Our Nations, Our Future, Our Vision: Transformative Change through First Nation Higher Education. Retrieved from http://education.chiefs-of-ontario. org/upload/documents/17-08-09-our-nations-our-future-our-visi.pdf P 28 12. Palmater, P. (2017). Our Nations, Our Future, Our Vision: Transformative Change through First Nation Higher Education. http://education.chiefs-of-ontario.org/upload/ documents/17-08-09-our-nations-our-future-our-visi.pdf P 30 13. Truth and Reconciliation Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. p. vi 14. Journalists for Human Rights (2013). Buried Voices. http://www.jhr.ca/en/wp-content/ uploads/2016/10/Buried-Voices.pdf


15. Journalists for Human Rights (2016). Buried Voices: Changing Tones. http://www.jhr.ca/ en/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/JHR-IRP-Report-v3online.pdf 16. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action . Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012 17. Ibid 18. Aboriginal Post-secondary Education and Training Policy Framework. Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011. Pg 5-6 http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/pepg/publications/APETPFramework.pdf 19. “Beyond 94” CBC.ca, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 18 March 2018, https:// newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform-single/beyond-94 20. Palmater, P. (2017). Our Nations, Our Future, Our Vision: Transformative Change through First Nation Higher Education. to http://education.chiefs-of-ontario.org/upload/ documents/17-08-09-our-nations-our-future-our-visi.pdf P 33 21. Statistics Canada. 2017. Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census no. 11-001-X. Ottawa. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/171025/dq171025a-eng.htm 22. Ibid 23. Crawley, M. (2018, July 19) Ontario cancels curriculum rewrite that would boost Indigenous content. The Star. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-educationtruth-and-reconciliation-commission-trc-1.4739297 24. Journalists for Human Rights (2017). Buried Voices: Changing Tones. http://www.jhr.ca/ en/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/JHR-IRP-Report-v3online.pdf 25. 30 of 61 programs across Canada 26. Advancing Reconciliation through Higher Education: 2017 Survey Findings.” Universities Canada, Apr. 2018, www.univcan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/indigenousadvancing-reconciliation-through-higher-education-2017-survey-findings-april-2018.pdf 27. Ibid 28. Journalists for Human Rights (2013). Buried Voices. http://www.jhr.ca/en/wp-content/ uploads/2016/10/Buried-Voices.pdf 29. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012 30. “Terminology Guide: Research on Aboriginal Heritage .” Library and Archives Canada, Government Of Canada, 21 June 2012, www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/aboriginalheritage/Documents/Terminology%20Guide%20%20Aboriginal%20Heritage.pdf. 31. “Terminology.” Indigenousfoundations, University of British Columbia, indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/terminology/. 32. “Information Sheet: Definitions.”  Human Services, Government of Alberta, Mar. 2000, www.humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/aboriginal-definitions.pdf.


The views expressed in this publication are the views of JHR and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province This report is funded by:


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Emerging Voices is a report from JHR's Indigenous Reporters Program. The goal was twofold. To have a better understanding of the pathways of...

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Emerging Voices is a report from JHR's Indigenous Reporters Program. The goal was twofold. To have a better understanding of the pathways of...

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