Newsletter: Making sense of the Trans Mountain consultation conundrum

Why we’ve really got to listen when it comes to Indigenous land rights.

The Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn the approval of Trans Mountain is significant. One thing the decision highlights is that the government didn’t properly consult with Indigenous people; this prompted us to reflect on what we’ve heard about the project from the dozens of communities we’ve been listening to.

Community-powered stories are at the heart of The Discourse. Our decision to go local — we’re winding down our beats and evolving our model to directly serve specific communities — is built on what we’ve accomplished by genuinely listening to people.

Over the past four years, The Discourse has strived to engage people in our journalism throughout the editorial process; this is especially true with our coverage of Indigenous land rights. Stories about land rights are complex and highly political, and it’s challenging to get the whole story — let alone distil it for readers. So, by asking our community to contribute, we’ve been able to learn, build trust and tell better stories. 

Take a look at the community-powered investigations section below to see key ways listening shaped our Trans Mountain coverage.

We want to keep doing this kind of work. That’s why we’re asking everyone to support The Discourse by becoming a member. Sign up here.

Community-powered investigations.

What do you know about the Trans Mountain Expansion Project?

In 2017, Trevor Jang began his Trans Mountain coverage by doing an engagement road trip. We teamed up with reporters from The Centre for Investigative Reporting, and hosted listening events in communities along the pipeline route. 

Everything we know about the Trans Mountain Expansion Project so far

Trevor took some key questions that he was hearing from people and answered them here.

Breaking tradition

Based on what he heard on the ground during his engagement trip, Trevor dug deep into why consent from the entire community is crucial when it comes to getting First Nations’ approval for resource projects. This story was published in partnership with BCBusiness magazine.

Here’s our database tracking how Indigenous communities are affected by Trans Mountain

While following coverage of Trans Mountain, The Discourse team felt like there was a real lack of clarity about where Indigenous communities stand on the project. So, we partnered with APTN and HuffPost Canada to create a database. It lists all of the communities involved in the consultation process and what we know about their stance. We published it as a live database and asked for feedback, so we could continuously update it

See you soon, Secwepemc Nation

We knew many voices were missing from our database, so we teamed up with APTN to go to Secwepemc territory, and hear from people in person. Reporter Lauren Kaljur reflected on what she learned on her trip, and wrote about High Bar First Nation’s fight to be consulted after historical wrongdoing 

Why does Canada have to listen to First Nations?

After noticing misconceptions on social media for years, reporter Trevor Jang wanted to provide clarity around Indigenous consultation, so we created two explainer videos. One, above, explains why Canada has to listen to First Nations, and another breaks down reserve land versus traditional territory


Calling all experienced journalists: We’ve extended the application deadline for our Scarborough reporter position! You now have until Monday, Sept. 3 to apply. (Click here to learn more about #GTADiscourse.) 


Many thanks to Discourse member Sabina Wex for sending us this lovely email in response to last week’s newsletter: “Thank you so much for focusing on local communities! The Discourse is doing such great work and continues to show Canadians how important journalism is by engaging them in the conversation about their own communities! Keep it up!” [end]


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