On Feb 14, 2018, people from all over B.C.’s Lower Mainland gathered for the annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver.
Child Welfare Urban Nation

Doubling down on the urban Indigenous beat

A journalist with experience covering the child-welfare system will be reporting alongside Wawmeesh Hamilton
Brielle Morgan September 18, 2018

Summer’s over and I’ve got UPDATES. Yep, all-caps updates.

At The Discourse, we’re shaking things up a little. Our reporting will no longer be organized around specific beats or issue areas, like reconciliation, gender, sustainability and child welfare. Instead, we’re going to focus our reporting on specific communities.

We want to take everything we’ve learned over the past four years — about how journalists can better serve underserved communities — and apply it in communities where people have told us they could really use some solid reporting.

This means my role at Discourse is changing. Rather than focusing on the child-welfare system, I’m going to be reporting on the urban Indigenous community in the Lower Mainland alongside Wawmeesh Hamilton. (His investigation into the First Nations housing crisis on Canadian reserves was recently nominated for a 2018 Online Journalism Award)

What this means for the child welfare beat

I fully intend to continue reporting on the child-welfare system. If I’ve learned anything over the past couple years, it’s that this system has huge implications for Indigenous families in the Lower Mainland.

I’ve also learned (through countless conversations and dozens of survey responses) that many Indigenous people in the Lower Mainland feel extremely underserved by local media. People are fed up with stories about tragic outcomes for kids in care, and they’re hungry for stories that go deeper — stories that highlight the systemic barriers undermining Indigenous families and communities, stories that explore ways forward.

These stories matter because they have important implications for all Canadians, not just urban Indigenous folks, and not just those of us in the Lower Mainland.

To ensure that deep stories about the child-welfare system are being told in B.C., I’m working with journalists from different media outlets in Vancouver on a collaborative child-welfare project. After considering ideas from system stakeholders, we’ve decided to build a website with an open-source database, original reporting and resources (e.g. a best-practice guide for journalists). We’ll be developing this over the next year.

Bethany Sunday Shortt was interviewed for our new urban Indigenous reporting beat. Wawmeesh took this portrait of her in front of a mural at the corner of Venables St. and Commercial Dr., in Vancouver, B.C.

Get involved

While I was on vacation, Wawmeesh launched our weekly urban Indigenous newsletter, which comes out every Wednesday. We added you to the mailing list and hope that you’ll find value in this work, but please feel free to unsubscribe if it’s not your thing. I won’t be publishing a child-welfare newsletter anymore, though I’ll still send you the occasional email with updates about our collaborative journalism project.

If you’re an urban Indigenous person in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, get in touch! We’re interviewing as many people as possible, asking the same 10 questions. Questions like: What do you love about the urban Indigenous community? What’s challenging? What do you wish a reporter would look into? If you have thoughts, click here; it’ll take about 15 minutes to answer the questions. Or email me if you’d rather schedule a face-to-face conversation.

I also encourage you to join the new Facebook group we launched as a gathering place for urban Indigenous folks to discuss what’s happening, share ideas, and learn from each other. The group is open to non-Indigenous allies, too, as a space for us to listen and learn.

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