Category: Carleton

Spreading the good news

Spreading the good news

(In feature photo: The three winners of the National Indigenous Day Bannock Bake-off)

Hope, strength and resilience aren’t words I have heard in a lot of reporting on Indigenous peoples of Canada. The stories I hear most often go like this:

  1. An Indigenous nation has a dire problem (drinking water, suicide crisis, flood plains, etc). The federal government refuses to help. Problem is getting worse.
  2. The federal government is backing a company in their fight to extract resources from the land. Indigenous people protest and police get involved. The company still gets to extract resources.

These stories frame Indigenous people as hapless victims, unable to care for themselves or generally being a nuisance to both private and public sectors.

Stories North doesn’t tell those kinds of narratives. There was no agreement—we didn’t decide this was something we wouldn’t do. It’s just that’s not how we saw the people we met. The Indigenous people who spoke with our class were not helpless, they weren’t weak and they weren’t necessarily opposed to big business or the government, although most are passionate about protecting the land for future generations.

The people we met were incredibly strong—many had been through some hellish experiences, some of which Canadians are beginning to get familiar with through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work, among other initiatives.

HAROLD (1 of 1)
Harold Johnson of the Long Ago People’s Place, telling us about Champagne First Nation traditions.

Yet, while many shared those experiences, our stories were shaped more by the work they are doing now to heal themselves and their communities. They are forward-thinking leaders, doing the good work that needs to be done for a better future.

Sometimes journalists look down on the “good-news story” for not being serious and important enough. The public does too—see the comments on any good-news story (or don’t, if you value your sanity) and some person is quick to comment that it “must have been a slow news day.”

But the importance of reporting on good-news stories that feature Indigenous people is that they allow the public to have a frame of reference beyond victimhood and civil disobedience. Protests and public crises should be covered—of course—but when many Canadians only see these communities, they don’t know about the incredible things that are happening.

Shauna Yeomans is a land guardian for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. She helps test the land to make sure projects like the hydroelectric plant aren’t negatively affecting the environment.

As I move forward past this course, I am committed to doing three things to try and combat this narrative of despair:

  1. I want to know more about the people whose lands I live on. I’ve been lucky to get to know what’s happening in some of the First Nations of the Yukon and I’m very grateful to those who have shared. There’s no reason for me not to be talking with people at home. I know I live on unceded Algonquin Territory, but that’s not enough.
  2. I am going to share those stories. I am not currently employed as a journalist, but I have a sphere of influence: friends, family, Instagram followers. You never know who you’re going to touch and social media makes it easier to share what you learn.
  3. I’m going to try and stop feeling bad about preferring to tell good-news stories. I like soft news and if my master’s degree has taught me anything, it’s that most journalists don’t have a lot of respect for that kind of reporting. Yet, this course has taught me that these stories can be important and have the potential to change the way we think about each other. We could all stand to be a little kinder.

I arrived in this class aware of the history of Indigenous people. I’m not all-knowing, but I knew more than the basic pre-contact history taught at school.

As Harold Gatensby shared his residential school story and his outlook on the meaning of life, we burned pieces of one of the residential schools he attended in Carcross.

From the first day of Stories North, when we did a blanket exercise led by two young, strong, First Nations women, I have felt that I need to take my disgust with the way things have gone in the past and turn into something more productive.

What was missing from my education was hope and my own ability to help spread that hope. This class has not only taught me to look for the good, but has tasked me with the responsibility of sharing it.

Here’s to a bright, bright future.

The Healing Totem

The Healing Totem

“Every time, there’s not enough chips,” said Wayne Price, master carver of the Healing Totem Project at the opening ceremonies of Whitehorse’s first National Indigenous Day as a statutory holiday.

The crowd gathered around the totem pole that Price and a group of about 20 carvers created in 2013. Price said each chip represents one person. The chips were ceremonially burned and a portion of the ashes is inside the totem pole.

Community members carried the pole seven blocks through Whitehorse to of Main Street. It serves as a reminder of hope for the future.

The promise of a teaching career

For more than a decade, job market predictors have said there is about to be a mass retirement in Ontario with a teacher shortage and a dire need for new, young teachers.

As they wait for this to materialize, passionate, qualified teachers fight to get the few available full-time positions. Some make it and some don’t.

Here’s what it’s like to fight for the job you want in an incredibly tight market:

Heavy construction frustrates Ottawa commuters

Heavy construction frustrates Ottawa commuters

Late for work? You’re not alone. Canada 150 and Confederation Line construction projects have led to lane closures, long delays and frustration for commuters going through the downtown area.

Some of the most heavily travelled Centretown roads are under construction, or slated to be soon. Lyon Street, McLeod Street, Queen Street, Rideau Street, and Kent Street are just some of the main thoroughfares affected by the upheaval, clogging city streets during rush hour.

“Since I’m on the 95, I’m passing right through the #OnTrack2018 mess,” said Evan Przesiecki, an Ottawa resident and Carleton journalism student.


Please head over to Capital News Online to see the rest of the story I worked on as part of the multimedia team. Find out the Ottawa neighbourhoods with the most construction and why things may only be getting worse when winter starts.