Supporting Emerging Indigenous Reporters: Spring Scholarships Announced!

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s full report released last December, media plays an integral role in advancing the narratives necessary to move forward. However, there is a well established lack of diversity in Canadian newsrooms, meaning that Indigenous voices are often not represented.


One part of increasing diversity in media is to address challenges in receiving journalism education. To increase accessibility, JHR is continuing to invest in outstanding Canadian Indigenous journalism by providing scholarships to students in post-secondary media programs.


We are thrilled to announce the latest scholarship winners. We would also like to recognize our funders, the RBC Foundation and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, without whose support this program would not be possible.


Jeanelle Mandes


“I’ve always chased that dream of being a voice in the Indigenous communities to tell our own stories. My career goals is to teach journalism in a university level, be a strong advocate to recruit more Aboriginal journalists, start my own Indigenous newspaper that will expand into mini-documentaries.”

Bio photo of Jeanelle Mandes

Jeanelle just finished her Bachelors of Journalism and, very excitingly, has been accepted to the Master’s of Journalism program at the University of Regina, beginning in Fall 2016. She grew up in her home community, Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation, in Treaty 6 Territory. She is a mother to her 7-year-old daughter who, at the age of three, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a result, Jeanelle introduced the “Light It Up Blue” event for World Autism Awareness Day in Regina, Saskatchewan, which has been held there for the past four years.

Jeanelle has been involved in journalism since her first year in university, freelancing for a variety of different outlets and in different mediums throughout Saskatchewan. She prioritizes positive stories that feature the successes of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Positive stories have the power to encourage people to rethink their views about Indigenous peoples and the media.



Farzon Sahami (Nick Asawasega)

“As a father, it is very important to me to create a future where Indigenous people living in Canada are freed from the restraints of systemic racism. It is my sincerest hope that my daughter, and others of her generation, will never feel ashamed of their Aboriginal heritage. I strongly believe the best way I can create effective change is through a career in media.”

Farzon, who Farzon Sahami Bio Picis professionally known as Nick Asawasega, is a member of Henvey Inlet First Nation. He is currently working towards obtaining an Advanced Diploma in Broadcasting Television and Communications Media from Mohawk College. While in school, he works as the Director of Business Development and Special Projects for NationTalk where he has had the opportunity to conduct a variety of interviews and articles. He believes Canada needs to have an increased number of Indigenous peoples in media to provide strong, positive examples of what Indigenous peoples can achieve! Farzon is passionate about sports. He is working towards launching a media website that is dedicated to indigenous sports at all levels across Canada – keep your eye out for the launch soon!



Amanda Grace Heavy Runner

“Success and positive stories of Indigenous people in Canada are mostly important to me because shedding light on these stories empower people to rethink their views about media.”

Amanda Grace Heavy Runner Bio Pic

Grace is originally from the Kainai Blood Nation and is currently completing her Bachelors of Communication in Journalism at Mount Royal University. She spent four years in St. Mary’s Residential School and remembers the day when the announcement came that it would be closing: she was eleven years old. Before choosing the journalism program, she embraced her Indigenous culture both learning how to jingle dance and creating her own jingle dress, which she now proudly wears. Grace is a leader in her university community, and has had a successful first year academically and in her wider community; speaking at various events about her experience studying journalism and Indigenous issues. She hopes to one day work for APTN or CBC Aboriginal, start her own magazine, or make films and documentaries.




Jaylene Matthews

“First Nations people are continuously marginalized in the media, and that needs to change. Journalism is an amazing opportunity to give a voice to your people and help advocate for a balanced Canadian society.”

Jaylene Matthews Bio Pic

Jaylene is finishing her first year of journalism studies at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver. Growing up, she was a bookworm and dreamed of being an author. As she grew, she recognized the discrepancies in life and the relevance of current events which fostered her interests in present day storytelling: journalism. In looking at the media today, Jaylene recognizes the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada as a major problem. She writes, “if the widespread population got a really glaring, hard look at exactly what the conditions are in these areas – and a proper history lesson on why they are that way – maybe things could change a little faster.” She believes it is the responsibility of the media to educate the public about what is going on so that the public can respond accordingly. In the future, she hopes to be able to give a voice to remote communities, choosing, shooting and packaging her own stories.


In the coming year, JHR will be offering a number of other scholarship and internship opportunities for emerging Indigenous reporters, adding much needed balance and Indigenous perspective to Canadian storytelling and paving the way for a new generation of reporters to relay the information that matters to us all. Stay tuned to JHR’s social media and website for updates!

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