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Proud Indigenous media workers, CMG members – Trina Roache and Toby Otak

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





Trina Roache
Video Journalist at APTN





A few words about me and my work

Kwe! Hello from Mi’kma’ki! I’m a member of the Kluscap First Nation, a Mi’kmaw community in Nova Scotia. When I worked in daily news, I covered the Atlantic region – the traditional territories of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoq, and Peskotomuhkati, as well as Innu and Inuit communities in Labrador.

Now that I work for APTN Investigates, my stories can happen anywhere in Canada. But I love telling the stories of my people, and whenever I can I stick close to Mi’kma’ki.

One or my favourite stories is about the Mi’kmaw claim to the game of hockey. I love the history of the Mi’kmaw game on ice. How the Mi’kmaq used their top-notch woodworking skills to make hockey sticks in the 1800s – sticks so popular, they went around the world.

When racism rears its head in the sport today, I always point out that hockey fans should thank the Mi’kmaq for Canada’s favourite game. And finally, every good story has conflict. Staking a claim as the birthplace of hockey makes it one of my most controversial stories to date!

For those aspiring to work in media

I hear from colleagues who work in mainstream newsrooms across the country, that the stories they want to tell about their communities are turned down.

I have had this question put to me when I’ve given interviews or lectures – how do I draw the line between activism and journalism, as if me being Indigenous means I can’t report objectively on Indigenous peoples’ issues.

Bringing a Mi’kmaw, Cree, Haida, or Inuit understanding to a story on climate change, poverty, housing, or human rights, takes the story up a level.

Living through the pandemic

Luckily, I had just finished filming my documentary for APTN Investigates before everything shut down due to the pandemic. Since then, mentoring and research on future docs have all happened from home. video chats and zoom meetings have kept my work going. When I start filming again this summer…I may have a different answer!





Toby Otak
Reporter & Editor at CBC








A few words about me and my work

I love talking. And I love asking questions. I am a curious person, and I want to inform people in my language because the majority of people in this territory listen to CBC on the radio.

We need to know our cultural knowledge in order to really bring out the story that is being told. There are always different sides to everything. If scientists are studying something up in the Arctic, and they don’t consult with elders, it becomes a one-sided story.

One of our co-workers always highly recommended interviewing elders about anything that is being researched or studied about our environment. Elders are cultural keepers of our land.

For those aspiring to work in media

To anyone entering the media industry, I would say: don’t be afraid to fail. There are always opportunities out there.

Living through the pandemic

Before the pandemic, I thought I had a chaotic life. Now it’s a little more chaotic because I am a single parent, and I have to try to be a parent full time and a full-time worker, both at the same time.

My advice to everyone out there is to keep up the good work, and don’t forget to rest.

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