In celebration of National Aboriginal Day 2013, CMG members share their thoughts and insights as Indigenous people working in the media industry.
Video journalist with CBC Ottawa
I’m a video journalist at CBC Ottawa working general assignment. My assignments are diverse, but I make an effort to tell as many stories from Ottawa’s Aboriginal community as possible. It’s a growing, vibrant community with unique and compelling narratives and issues, and I consider it a great honour to be able to cover them. It’s important for the rest of Ottawa (and the rest of the country, in general) to learn about and understand the original peoples of this land. Colonialism and legislated repression have created an enormous divide between First Nations and the rest of Canada, and historically the education system ignored some of the abuses. The media are key in educating and informing other Canadians about their Aboriginal neighbours. As journalists, we can play a role in raising awareness and fostering understanding and a new relationship moving forward in this country.
Associate Director for News and Current Affairs
I graduated from the Aboriginal Broadcasting Training Initiative and attained a certificate in Broadcast Technology from Red River Community College and the Manitoba Indian Cultural Education Centre. Since 1998 I have developed my talents through a variety of opportunities with the Women’s Television Network, The Sharing Circle, as well as various other independent productions. For the past 12 years, I have been with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network working as an Associate Director for News and Current Affairs. I also have been trained as Director/Overdrive Operator, and work overdrive on a rotation with other studio crew members.
As an Aboriginal woman, I wish to continue advancement in broadcasting in areas where Aboriginal women are underrepresented and to increase the number of women working on the technical side of the broadcasting industry. I believe in creating awareness among all employers of hiring women and creating a diversified and balanced workforce. I am also a member of Canadian Women in Communication. I am of Cree and German ancestry, a mother, and spend most of my free time working out, watching my son play football, and relaxing at the lake.
Vancouver-based reporter for CBC-TV’s The National
For sure, on June 21, you’ll see lots of “good Indians” in the media, as assignment editors scramble to cover annual Aboriginal Day celebrations. There’s nothing wrong with that. I often use National Aboriginal Day to pitch stories that can’t find a home during the rest of the year. But we can do better than calendar journalism. We need journalists to have their ears to the ground in Aboriginal communities and know what matters to Aboriginal peoples, by building relationships with them. And we need journalists to operate respectfully in Aboriginal communities, so they can report the good, the bad, and the ugly, without fear of someone crying “Racist!” – More
Announcer/Operator, CBC North, Kuujjuaq
I worked for print media and video before joining CBC. I wanted to try radio and found it to be something I really enjoyed doing. I am happy serve the people in my region in their own language.
What I like about radio also is that what we put on “air” is instant, whereas in print media or video it takes a little longer to package before bringing it to the public. It feels good when people comment about listening to our shows saying they are happy to hear stories and news in their own language. I didn’t think I’d last this long working for CBC but 27 years later, I’m still here and enjoying it.
Reporter/Editor, CBC North, Rankin Inlet
I got into broadcasting by “accident”. I never thought I’d have my voice heard on the radio. Now that I’m with CBC and talking with different people with different views and opinions, I’m always inspired to learn more. Especially about our Inuktitut language and our culture. It’s allowing me to maintain and spread the two in the territory I am from. It’s important to keep our our language and culture alive.
Reporter/Editor, CBC North, Iqaluit
I became aware of the possibilities of broadcasting as a profession after taking a specialized course in high school. It took place in the fall of 2001, which is when I gained insight into the role of the media in society.
The events of 9/11 pushed me to begin critically examining the world around me and I found that through film and creative writing I could tell my part of the story. The greatest satisfaction I get from my work is in knowing that I am contributing to providing balanced information to the far reaches of our country.
Every Canadian citizen, especially those who feel marginalized from the rest of society should have the right to relevant information. One of the biggest inspirations in my work is James Nachtwey, a photojournalist who travels to war-torn countries to point the lens on injustices around the world.
Reporter/Editor, CBC North, Iqaluit
I got into broadcasting because of my interest in film-making and at the same time I wanted to experience news programming. The greatest satisfaction is getting to write stories and sharing them with Nunavummiut. Gord Billard (my high-school teacher) brought me into the media world, which motivated me. But my grandpa has always inspired me in all things I do.
News Producer, CBC North, Iqaluit
It was a complete fluke, because I didn’t know a lot about broadcasting. But I grew up listening to the radio, everyone was listening to the radio at home. What brought me here was when I was going to high school the only way to communicate with your parents or family and friends was through letters or telephone. So every week, CBC had a radio show, and for one hour, we were allowed as students to go on the radio, and send messages to our family and friends back home and play music and dedicate music to the ones we love and left behind. Every week we would go to CBC on Saturday afternoons. I was kind of shy in high school, but as it turns out, as soon as you put me behind a microphone, “yakkity yak yak yak yak.”
Then when I was about 24, there was an announcer/operator job opening, so I just decided to go for it. I’ve been there ever since.
It’s challenging, because when I first started, Inuit and qallunaat (non-Inuit) journalists were very separated. The qallunaaq journalists were university educated or college educated, and they sort of always had a sense of privilege that they knew more than you did in terms of story-telling. But one thing that they did not really understand was that our culture, our Inuit culture, and the Aboriginal people culture, was based on story-telling. That’s how we were able to keep our history alive – through story-telling. We did not have papers or archives, things to fall back on, all we had was the memory and the stories of our ancestors.
We’re providing very much needed information to people through radio, internet and television, of issues that might not affect them directly, but are happening around the world, happening in their own community, happening in the territory. One thing that
really motivates me is the feedback we get constantly.
The reason we come to work at CBC, is because we care about our community, we care about the people, we care about what’s happening to our territory, Canada and around the world.
Reporter/Editor, CBC North, Iqaluit
My start in broadcasting began in high-school and has since snowballed into an amazing career. I took a media class in high-school, where I learned about an opportunity to work with Amberlight Productions in Toronto for their television show, Road Scholars, and then later their Aboriginal teen show, The Link, both of which aired on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network.
In my last year of high-school, a CBC North producer traveled to my community, Sanikiluaq, to hold a media workshop. Afterwards, he offered me an internship at CBC in Iqaluit for the summer. After trying my hand at television reporting, I continued on to university for two years. It felt like fate when a position opened for a reporter at CBC soon after I completed university. I’ve been here at CBC North since, and love the feeling of telling the stories of the Inuit of Nunavut.
As an Inuk, I share a culture, history, language, and world-view with the people in the territory, and find incredible joy in being here to share, and reflect on, the news, events and stories that come from Nunavut. My motivation comes from my late dad, Bill Fraser, who was always fighting for Inuit to have a voice and a say in their everyday lives. I am also motivated, and inspired, when we are told by people that they are listening, they are affected, and they do have a say.
Announcer/Operator, CBC North, Iqaluit
I was offered a two-week training course with CBC. I had been looking for a job for a while so this was good timing.
We listened to the radio when I was a child, to Annie Padluk, Elijah Manirajak, Jonah Kelly. They were very inspiring, and when I first started, I was able to ask them questions about their work, about how they interview people.
I loved the opportunity to ask questions I have or others have. I also enjoy talking to people about the many interesting stories they have to tell. Inuktitut is my first language. I am an Inuk. I’ve learned to love this about myself, even though I sometimes was not proud of being an Inuk, with thoughts that I must have been born into the wrong culture. I have found happiness and joy doing the work I do at CBC.