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Proud Indigenous media workers, CMG members – Sarah Leonardis and Charmaine Straker

Every year we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day along with the many union members who come from Indigenous communities across the country.

It’s particularly meaningful this year when we see the massive marches in communities big and small held to denounce anti-Black and Indigenous racism.  It’s been an important time, hearing so many brave stories from media workers who are sharing their personal experiences of systemic racism at work and in life.

We want to be part of the solution and foster better understanding. Over the next couple of posts, you will get a chance to meet some of our Indigenous co-workers.

Carmel Smyth
National President, Canadian Media Guild





Sarah Leonardis
Translator at CB








A few words about me and my work

I’m an Inuit and I have lived and worked in Yellowknife for 35 years, but I’m originally from Nunavut. I speak and write in Inuktitut, thus I translate news stories into Inuktitut for the unilingual Inuit across the North.

It also is very important for Indigenous people to be serving Northern listeners as they especially rely on radio and television to keep up with what’s going on around the country and the world. To preserve our many different native languages is essential as they are being eroded gradually.

For those aspiring to work in media

I would encourage the younger generation to get into media work as it is a very good way to be involved in our languages and be connected with the public.

Living through the pandemic

Everything has drastically changed in our everyday lives due to the pandemic. I’m lucky so far that I’m still able to come to the workplace physically and interact with the few people left in the office. In the midst of these changes, let’s continue to work hard and keep the connection to our people, and keep our languages strong and vibrant.






Charmaine Straker
Associate Director at APTN






A few words about me and my work

I grew up in Norway House Cree Nation and moved to Winnipeg on the cusp of my teenage years.

Funnily enough, I didn’t plan to end up in television. I originally wanted to go into film. My mother once found an advertisement for an Indigenous broadcasting school, and I figured I would try it out and that’s how I fell into this world.

I want to advocate for showcasing more young people’s talent. We have so many people who are big into sports and other fields, and I love the idea of showing what our youth are doing, and what their journeys to get there have been like.

For those aspiring to work in media

Indigenous workers in the media are too few and far between. When local media reporters cover Indigenous people but don’t necessarily know the meaning behind what they are covering – be it cultural practices or life on the reserves, it shows. I’m still learning a lot of this too myself.

Living through the pandemic

The pandemic has for sure put a dampener on things. I know a lot people who have been laid off. I am luckier than others in that I still have a job, and am still going to work and not stuck at home. On a personal level, I definitely miss social activities that I normally do, like hanging out with my friends, and playing soccer.




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