Announcing the winner of JHR’s 2nd Annual Award for Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter

Kanyen’kehá:ka journalist Shelby Lisk wins the award for her story on Indigenous-language revitalization in TVO — Shelby’s photo by Matthew Hayes

TORONTO, May 20, 2021 – Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is pleased to announce Kanyen’kehá:ka photographer, filmmaker, and journalist Shelby Lisk as the winner of its 2nd Annual Award for Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter. Lisk has been recognized for her story ‘For our children: How families are passing down Indigenous languages’ (link), published by TVO.org.  

Lisk has roots in Kenhtè:ke (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory) and is based in Ottawa, where she currently works as TVO’s Indigenous Hub staff writer. As a journalist and artist, Lisk is interested in exploring contemporary issues in Indigenous and mixed-race identity.

The award was announced yesterday at a virtual ceremony in which eminent Indigenous journalists and writers Tanya Talaga, Karyn Pugliese, Angela Sterritt, and Ryan McMahon also spoke about the evolution of Indigenous journalism. They said that while much progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do.  

Tanya Talaga sat alongside Karyn Pugliese and Ryan McMahon on the jury for JHR’s Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter Award, and congratulated Lisk on her win.

“Your work really is such a leader. You brought in four different languages in your piece. Seeing the language in your story filled us all with so much heart,” Talaga said. 

“We need to remind people of our languages, we need to keep our languages going, and to see it in print, digitally, was incredible. How you brought the stories forward incredible. You were storytelling, in every single way you could.” 

Lisk accepted the award and noted how proud she was to be on the shortlist alongside Oscar Baker III and Chezney Martin.

“I was drawn to write because of my own language learning journey, and because I felt that a lot of the stories that I saw about cultural and language revitalization really focused on this uplifting message of ‘This was taken away from us but now we have it again.’ It almost felt to me that ‘it’s okay that this happened, because we’re really strong ’,” Lisk said. 

JHR Executive Director Rachel Pulfer said, “JHR is pleased to recognize and amplify Indigenous journalistic voices through its Annual Award for Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter, and Shelby Lisk is a most deserving recipient for her deep commitment to documenting Indigenous-language preservation and revitalization. We are grateful to RBC for its support of the award through its Future Launch program.” 

Lisk was one of three Indigenous journalists who were recognized in JHR’s shortlist for the Indigenous Youth Reporter award, which also included Oscar Baker III for his article, ‘A story of resilience: Decision to take son off of life support still haunts Membertou First Nation father’ (link), published in Cape Breton Post, and Chezney Martin for her story, titled ‘How can you reconcile on stolen land’ (link), published in The Pigeon. 

The award seeks to recognize a piece of outstanding journalism created by a First Nations, Métis or Inuit journalist, or team of journalists, between the ages of 15 and 29 years old, that was published or broadcast in any format and any medium in Canada, during the 2020 calendar year.

The Indigenous Reporter Award is supported by the RBC Foundation as part of RBC Future Launch, the bank’s 10-year, $500-million commitment to preparing Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow.

The award ceremony was also sponsored by CTV News and APTN National News.

For all press enquiries, please contact:

Mehreen Hasan

Communications & Operations Assistant 

[email protected] | 647-549-6337

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