Supporting Emerging Indigenous Reporters: Summer 2017 Scholarships

An integral part of JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program is the Emerging Indigenous Reporter Scholarship Program. Designed to alleviate a portion of the financial burden associated with obtaining a journalism or media degree from a Canadian post-secondary institution, the program supports Indigenous journalism students across the country. We are excited to announce the four superb emerging Indigenous journalists supported by the summer 2017 scholarship program!

We would also like to recognize our funders: the RBC Foundation, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and the Donner Canadian Foundation. Without their support, this program would not be possible.

Ntawnis Piapot

“I feel Indigenous writers need and deserve space to tell our own stories. We have the capability, the talent and the lived experience to speak about things that affect our communities…There needs to be more Indigenous people in the newsroom. We need to hold space in every level of the newsroom as well. Change can happen but it’s the leaders that need to be the ones to say we need more indigenous voices telling these stories.”

Ntawnis PiapotNtawnis is a Nehiyaw iskwe storyteller, journalist and poet from the Piapot Cree Nation. She has lived across Canada spending time in Banff, Whitehorse, Iqaluit, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Regina, where she is currently based while obtaining her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Regina. From a young age, growing up in inner city Regina, Ntawnis has always loved writing. A high school guidance counselor encouraged her to continue writing , no matter what, and helped her enter the Indian Communications Art Program (INCA) at First Nations University.

It was here that Ntawnis fell in love with storytelling through journalism, successfully pitching stories on the injustices, poverty and systemic racism she witnessed growing up. She completed University of Regina’s BA in journalism and subsequently worked as a VJ for CTV Regina, a reporter/editor for CBC Saskatchewan, a National reporter for APTN National News in Winnipeg as well as freelancing for VICE News and Eagle Feather News in Saskatchewan.

Ntawnis continues to be passionate about telling stories from and for her community, writing about everyday people doing extraordinary things, and holding people accountable. She writes, “I gain strength from each person that shares their story of resilience and resurgence in the face of adversity. Being a journalist isn’t just a job for me. It’s a duty that was inherently passed down to me from my ancestors… So, I do my best to honour each and every story that is given to me.” Ntawnis would, one day, like to teach at the university level to empower and inspire young storytellers in a meaningful way.

Amanda Pope

“I encourage you to stand up for what is right and equality. As a journalist, you play a crucial role in what news is made public and what is not. It is your job to make sure that the issues that Indigenous Peoples face are covered and that it is covered in an effective and ethical manner. You are providing Indigenous people with a voice and allowing it to be heard.”

Amanda PopeAmanda is a second year student studying Journalism at Ryerson University. While balancing her duties at school, Amanda is also the CEO and founder of Living with Purpose Senior Care, which was awarded “The People’s Choice” for Hamilton’s elderly services business. She is the community producer and host of Cable 14’s Generation Z, a reporter for RUtv News at Ryerson University, the founder of the Generation Z Hamilton online blog; and the event manager for the Generation Z Hamilton monthly networking events; providing a forum for young entrepreneurs to learn, network and build their connections.

Amanda’s passion for covering social injustice, making a difference and seeking awareness and truth has fostered her love for journalism. She is drawn to stories that investigate the inequalities facing many Indigenous people in Canada today. To improve the way Indigenous stories and issues are represented in Canadian media, Amanda believes that it is crucial to have more Indigenous representation in the newsrooms. Further, journalists need to cover the day-to-day positive stories on Indigenous topics more frequently and increase the amount of coverage in general.

In the future, Amanda hopes to travel throughout Canada to report on and learn from other Indigenous communities, people and culture, other than her own. She hopes to one day be a talk-show host who interviews successful people, such as Indigenous Peoples, about their life challenges, life lessons and stories.

Nick Wapachee

“The most important thing to do is to follow-up on the stories, not only report on the breaking news but report on the outcome as well. Not everything is breaking news in the Indigenous communities. Stories that cover successful outcomes are really important to report on.”

Nick WapacheeNick is an aspiring journalist who grew up in the Cree Nation of Nemaska, a community of 700 people in the heart of Eeyou Istchee (Northern Quebec). Nick has worked with several news outlets specializing in Indigenous reporting. Fluent in both Cree and English, Nick routinely has reported in both languages, working with James Bay Cree Communications Society (JBCCS) and CBC North in Montreal, among others. Nick enjoys reporting on Indigenous people, especially Eeyou Istchee. He wants to showcase the stories of Cree Elders, youth and women.

Nick discovered his interest in journalism following a student-working program at Champ FM at the age of 17. After graduating from high school, the radio station hired him on to assist the radio announcers. It was when a journalist visiting the community reminded him of the power journalists have to deliver stories. Following this realization, Nick enrolled at Ryerson University where he is now in his third year. Currently, the stories that are most important to him are those highlighting successful outcomes in communities, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the high rate of suicide in Indigenous communities.

His dream for the future: “To open my own platform for the Cree Nation in Quebec, where news can be circulated on a daily basis and…where Cree communities are well-connected and well-trained to report on daily news.”

Shelby Lisk

“In a world that may make it seem like stories are not important or beautiful, they are. The world needs your stories. You are not alone, in any capacity, as much as you may feel alone sometimes. There are other people who are on a similar healing journey and who have the same yearning as you to make the world a better place for Indigenous people. You may feel that the world is saturated with stories and that someone else will be there to tell them but they won’t be there the way you would and they won’t tell the same story. The world needs your specific voice because it is beautiful, unique and special.”

Shelby LiskIn partnership with Loyalist College, JHR has awarded a scholarship specifically to a student entering or currently studying journalism and/or media at the College. The winner of the JHR-Loyalist Scholarship is Shelby Lisk. Shelby is entering her first year in Loyalist’s photojournalism program.

Growing up in Belleville, just outside of her community of Tyendinaga, Shelby loved being creative. From writing to painting, drawing to photography – the choice to study Fine Arts at the University of Ottawa following high school seemed like a natural one. Following her undergrad, Shelby travelled. First to Europe and then across North America in a camper van. While travelling, she always felt like there was something missing. While completing an artist residency in Banff, Shelby began writing about significant stories in her life that revolved around water and started calling her family, collecting their stories and considering ideas around blood memory. Shelby is now back in Belleville, continuing to connect with her community, and is currently learning her language.

Over next two years at Loyalist College, Shelby hopes to focus on telling her own stories, her family’s story and her community’s stories. Much of her work focuses on the idea of stories and truth. Shelby writes, “if powerful people have been able to rewrite and erase our histories, if Canada is allowed to continue erasing the story of colonization, then I am allowed to rewrite my story into a beautiful and powerful one. I am interested to learn how I can use the medium of photojournalism to advance an unheard or less heard voice and narrative.” For Shelby, change in the representation and narratives of Indigenous people in Canadian media will come from grassroots organizations lead by Indigenous people. She hopes to help create a shift in the way Indigenous communities are seen so that youth can grow up feeling proud of who they are.

Scholarships supported by:

RBC Foundation LogoDonner Canadian Foundation Logo


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