Winter Emerging Indigenous Reporter Scholarship Winners Announced!


An integral part to 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 delighted to announce the Winter 2016 scholarship award winners!

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.

Haley Lewis

Haley Lewis“In order for mainstream media to cover an Indigenous story it has to be tragic, the worst of the worst and I hate that. There are so many things going on in Indigenous communities that deserve exposure but just aren’t getting any.

Born in rural New Brunswick and now completing her Masters of Journalism at the University of British Columbia, Haley’s passion for journalism and zest for life is palpable. She is Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte on her Dad’s side and describes herself as an old soul, enjoying cross-stitch/needlepoint, knitting, playing the piano, spending time with family, and playing basketball in her spare time. Haley’s interest in journalism emerged in her undergrad when a journalism course sparked her interest. At the same time, she was President of her campus’ Indigenous Cultural alliance and began following a number of Indigenous journalists who inspired her to want to become part of the dialogue.  Most recently, Haley interned at CBC Ottawa, working on both their morning and afternoon radio shows.

When asked what advice she would give Indigenous youth who are considering studying journalism, she wrote, “if you’re weighing the potential, go for it, give it a shot, because quality Indigenous voices are needed in the media. So get out there, write, and make a difference – we don’t want other people telling our stories when we could be telling them ourselves.”

Nahka Bertrand

Nahka Bertrand Headshot“I am inspired by people’s stories, and the difference they can make. I am inspired by the craft of journalism itself, which, as I discover it, becomes all the more pertinent and necessary, because everyone has a story to tell, and narratives that have truth in them are important.”   

Nahka was inspired to enter journalism by her love of stories. Spending her younger years in the Kotaneelee mountain range in the Northwest Territories where her father worked as forest fire watchman, she became very fond of hearing about the world, since her connection to it and thirst for life was and is nourished by a profound connection to nature, her family, and, up there on the mountain, the radio.

After being approached in June 2015 by Leena Minifie, Ricochet Media’s Indigenous Reporting Fund editor, following a series of freelance articles about participatory democracy and Dene ways of life, Nahka seriously considered journalism. Nahka is now obtaining her Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Concordia University. Nahka believes it is important to continue to break down the wall of silence that has surrounded Indigenous issues in the media landscape by telling Indigenous stories, collectively overcome negative stereotypes, and work towards improving the lives of Indigenous peoples.

When asked what advice she would give to Indigenous youth who are considering studying journalism, she wrote: “It’s a gift to future generations. It’s well worth it to learn the language of journalism so as to tell stories in a factual and positive way, because everyone has a story to tell, because Indigenous people have a place in this country, and because there’s a small chance that telling these stories will have a positive impact on the people who read, hear, or see your work, to find their way in the world.”

David Bardwell

David Bardwell Headshot“I think one of the key methods to improve this coverage is to help the mainstream media realize that Indigenous people are also just people. By limiting our coverage to events like pow-wows and drug abuse, it dehumanizes a population and in turn results in a skewed perception in many cases.”

David’s passion for journalism began with an interest in photography. He was encouraged to pick up the camera by his grandfather, a Wolastoqiyik man, enlisting in the U.S. Army during his youth to escape the poverty associated with life in Canada for indigenous men at the time, and his uncle. He now is studying journalism at St. Thomas University while also working at the Brunswickan, Canada’s oldest student publication. He is interested in statistical stories and stories that explore the struggles that Indigenous peoples face everyday in Canada. In the next five years, he hopes to continue doing what he loves: telling the story of Indigenous peoples in either print or visual media.

When asked what advice he would tell Indigenous youth who are considering studying journalism David wrote: “ It’s clear that many outlets wish to increase their coverage, but lack the staff or knowledge to do so. Additionally, I would like them to know that journalism can be many different things, but that the art of telling a story is always useful, especially when trying to educate the masses on what is important to us.”

Nicole Auger

Nicole Auger Headshot“When I look at the media we have, I see a separation or what we can even call a divide. That divide is Canadian issues and Indigenous issues. There is a separation between these two and I don’t think it should be that way. Canadian issues should be Indigenous issues and Indigenous issues, Canadian issues. We are one country but when one looks at the news, it is us and them or them and us.”

Nicole grew up in Atikameg, Alberta, also known as Whitefish Lake First Nation. Her passion for writing and storytelling started at a young age when her love for reading evolved into writing rhymes and poetry as a method of expressing herself. Wanting to write and tell stories, Nicole chose to study journalism and is now in her third year at Mount Royal University. While in university, Nicole is also working as a reporter for the Calgary Journal in a variety of media. She wants to help bridge the divide between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples and stories so that Canadians can come to a better understanding of each other. As Nicole writes, “we are all Canadians and the issues that our happening in First Nations communities should be a collective process that all of us are trying to resolve, and bring healing to.” She is passionate about stories that need more answers and deeper investigation such as missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the increasing rate of drug use in First Nation communities.

When asked what advice she would give tell Indigenous youth who are considering studying journalism, she wrote, “I would tell them to do it. We need more Indigenous reporters, Canada needs our perspective in the media. We need to be represented, every day stories — the good and the bad — are not being told because there are not enough of us out there. As youth, you bring a fresh perspective and that is always needed… As journalists, we have the ability to change the way people see something. We break down information and explain it to the majority. How cool is that!”

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