Story by Olivia Joerges, photo is provided.
The latest opportunity for Carleton’s fourth-year and master’s of journalism students is in progress thanks to donors.
Kanina Holmes, a journalism professor at Carleton, is organizing a new special topic course that will bring students to the Yukon to learn about Inuit communities in the summer of 2017.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission sent out a call to action to help non-Indigenous Canadians attempt to understand the stories and realities of Indigenous Canadians. The Stories North course is a response to this call to action, Holmes said.
“One of my very first full-time jobs was in the North, I went to work for CBC Radio in Whitehorse . . . and fell in love with it,” Holmes said. “There were so many great reporting opportunities. Basically, I have always wanted to find a way to connect the North with journalism.”
This served as inspiration for the course, where students will be learning a combination of journalism skills including audio, video, photography, and some written productions, Holmes said.
The course will also teach students how to listen and re-tell people’s stories and experiences with empathy. Given the high volume of content students will be creating, most blogging and course assignments will be completed online using Carleton’s cuPortfolio, she said.
“A big part of the course is going to be getting into the habit of blogging, making observations and reflecting. So students are going to write a lot while they’re up there,” Holmes said. “The question that I want to ask everybody is: what does reconciliation look like?”
Most of the classes will be done outside, including hiking lectures, meetings with elders, historians, community leaders, and Indigenous youth.
“Of course, we’ll do some stuff in a classroom, but most of it will be done outside. I kind of look at the Yukon territory, for the month that we are there, as our classroom,” she said.
Most of the stories being produced will be focused on defining reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, and opening a social dialogue to improve government relations with communities.
Many students have started to express an interest in the course.
“I think that students are drawn to this kind of class because it’s so different in a portfolio, and to me, potential interviewers,” said Jaiden Doyle, a third-year journalism student. “I think a trip like this would make an amazing independent journalism project to add to my portfolio. I think there’s so many undiscovered stories up there that need to be told.”
The course will cost students between $3,000 to $3,500 to participate in the month long journey, but Holmes is crowdfunding for the program on Carleton’s FutureFunder website.
As of publication, the campaign has raised $7,650, with a goal of raising $10,000 by Dec. 31.
“I understand that students are pretty strapped for cash, and so my goal for the fall is to find some more funding to help students with the costs of getting up there . . . I’m hoping that the students who participate will also be able to do some fundraising of their own,” Holmes said.
Holmes was awarded a Teaching Achievement Award from Carleton earlier this year, and has donated most of the $15,000 grant towards administrating the Stories North course.
Funding and registration costs will go towards travel, living necessities, and lodging. The first student information sessions will be held in January 2017.
Due to travelling restrictions, only 15 students will be able to register for the course, but Holmes said she hopes that Stories North will run for a few years to give as many students as possible the opportunity to experience Canada’s North.