First Nations University of Canada did well at the Indigenous Journalist Association Conference
- Memory McLeod | September 26, 2023
In August, I, an Eagle Feather News freelancer, had the opportunity to attend the 40th annual Native American Journalists (NAJA) Conference in Winnipeg as part of a team of student journalists and alumni from the First Nations University of Canada’s Indigenous Communications Arts (INCA) program.
During the event, NAJA members voted in favour of changing its name to the Indigenous Journalists Association (IJA).
What a tremendous feeling of pride and inspiration it was to see so many beautiful brown faces among the attendees at the event.
It was hosted in downtown Winnipeg’s RBC Convention Centre, the first time in 30 years the event took place on Canadian soil.
There were several topics of interest and professional development opportunities over the three days for both aspiring writers to seasoned vets.
Like any good gathering, it was not all business.
It was punctuated with a variety of great food, good laughs, song, dance and ample time to network with like-minded journalists.
To cap off the conference, journalists received recognition for their hard work with a gala awards night.
Lindell Haywahe, an INCA alumni and host of FNUniv’s streaming radio station CFNU, said the conference was a definite 2023 highlight.
“Experiencing the camaraderie of being in the hub of Native American Journalists… was amazing because it really allowed me to open my eyes to a larger world, full of so many opportunities,” she said.
During the tradeshow she made some good contacts.
“Also, I was able to realize and articulate new aspirations and goals to look forward to,” said Haywahe. “My favorite presentation was the screening of “Bad Press”, mostly because I could relate to the concept of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the jurisdiction issue. I got some good ideas from the conference. It showed me how much could be done, still, when it comes to news coverage and scope of information that communities can share as a part of a bigger collective,”
During the gala INCA received an honourable mention in the category of Best Multi-Media Production. for FNUniv’s Pîkiskwêwin Community of Producers, an Indigenous-led and community-based podcast aimed to preserve Indigenous languages.
Haywahe along with others who worked on Pîkiskwêwin were on hand to accept the award.
The nod is no small accomplishment.
Others in the category were professional journalists representing major mainstream news networks such as MSNBC, Associated Press, CBC, APTN, ABC News among others.
It was quite the feather in the cap for Pîkiskwêwin.
Not too shabby for the INCA alumni many of whom gained much of their experience through the INCA summer institute offered every other year.
It is happening this summer for those who are interested in taking a crash-course in journalism.
While the program provides a wide range of training in various mediums such as print, radio, podcasting, and television.
Many INCA summer institute graduates have utilized their skills in interviewing, editing, producing, directing and collaborating on tight deadlines in a variety of fields.
Gaining those skills and applying them to a podcast is something Haywahe is most proud.
“NAJA had awards for different stories and coverage types was encouraging because just being acknowledged creates a sense of pride,” she said. “Sometimes, we, as journalists, podcasters, radio producers, just need someone to say, ‘Hey! Good job out there, we really appreciate what you are doing for the community.’ ”
I also believe the difference Indigenous Journalist make in society cannot be quantified.
I am so grateful to IJA and to INCA for helping to awaken my passion for storytelling.