By Shaun Malley, Community Journalism Trainer in Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation

Well, it finally happened. I finally learned it. What’s the benefit of knowing how little time left in a place? You get to work. The past few weeks have all been about organizing, making connections, and getting things to happen. Working with driven people has been extremely helpful, and even gratifying on a personal level.

Take the Chiefs, for example. Capital C, as in the members of the Chief family. I’ve had the pleasure to work with all three of them over the course of my program. While juggling a career and university study, Danine Chief has taken the time to learn about radio. It turned out to be a magnificent fit for her. Recently we completed a project that was close to many people’s hearts: an audio piece about the firekeepers who work to preserve local traditions in the community. These dedicated people come from as far as Sagkeeng First Nation to hold ceremony in the community and share knowledge. In the time we spent working on the project, Danine listened closely to what her interviewees said and found the best way to stitch them together. She’s also relentlessly hard on herself about her vocal delivery. Which is funny because she’s a natural. It’s just a sign of how dedicated she is about making sure things are right.

mini-paddle made
One of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten: a personalized mini-paddle made by Javier Lawson. He’s a JHR trainee, twice published in Wawatay. Top lad.

Then there’s Shiela Chief. She came through for me when a project looked like it might just fall apart. There was a decent amount of audio gathered at Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation’s powwow in September, in Anishinaabemowin and English, and it was clear something had to be done with it. In walks Shiela Chief, like a pinch hitter calmly ready to do a slap shot into the endzone and make a touchdown (sorry, soccer is my sport). We worked together to take the raw material gathered at the powwow and weave it into a cohesive radio documentary about the event, its history, and what it meant for the participants.

And a shoutout to Donna Chief, who put me up under her roof for several months. She’s a charismatic speaker and a joy to be around. Very adept with an audio recorder in her own right, as well!

My work with Kyle Derosier continues at an accelerated pace. Through our work on JHR projects, he developed an idea for an annual arts festival in the community. His feeling is the people of the community have the raw talent waiting to be moulded, and he wants to bring that to light. To that end, we’ve been working on funding proposals and networking with other artists and people within the arts industry to make it a reality. My job at the end of the day is to be a go-between, helping people share their voice with the world; if I can play a small role in helping Kyle make this festival happen, I’d be profoundly happy in that regard.

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