You might have seen my name pop up in Urban Nation newsletters in the past month or so, sharing community members’ stories and upcoming events.
I’ve been contributing to The Discourse for an internship through my journalism program at Langara College, where I’ll be graduating this month. These five weeks have been my first experience in a newsroom outside of school, and my last formal teaching opportunity before being released as an unemployed, certificate-wielding 22-year-old.
It was raining as I buzzed up at 9:28 a.m. on a Monday morning for my first day at the office. A perfect time, I thought: early, but not too early for the “a bit before 10” time I was told to come in for. Turns out I was among the first to arrive at the office that day.
Since then, I’ve interviewed a number of people from the urban Indigenous community, helped sift through their valuable insight for our community vote on what matters most to you, and contributed to the team’s ongoing investigation into inauthentic Indigenous art. These were all opportunities very different from the ones I was presented with in school.
This first experience in a newsroom has meant listening to community members in a way I hadn’t before. I never thought I would get the chance to sit down with someone for an hour in any newsroom and have a conversation without a specific story angle, not looking for the right quotable bit to drop into an article. Just asking questions, hearing people out, and giving them space to talk about whatever they feel is important and needs investigating.
Now I can’t imagine reporting without that process, especially on issues of importance to the Indigenous community of the Lower Mainland. I now understand that taking time to talk to and get to know the people your reporting affects is paramount to good journalism. Not only that, but you end up with more meaningful and interesting story ideas.
Thanks to everyone in the urban Indigenous community who shared your stories with me and trusted me to listen and learn.
People are talking about
- According to this Georgia Straight story, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the Vancouver Native Health Society wrongfully dismissed a man who worked for them because he isn’t Indigenous.
The Vancouver Sun reports that Langara College has incorporated a traditional Indigenous name, gifted to them by the Musqueam First Nation, into their brand identity.
In this CBC Indigenous report, panelists in Montreal discuss the challenges of how Indigenous stories are told in media, television and film.
- The Surrey Now-Leader is reporting that Semiahmoo First Nation officials have told non-Indigenous residents living on their land that they must leave if they don’t pay $50,000 to hook up to new water and sewer infrastructure.
‘We all take care of each other’
East Vancouver is made up of many urban First Nations peoples and cultures, and that’s what makes it tight-knit and strong, despite its challenges, Jasper Joseph says.
Jasper, 55, has lived in East Vancouver for more than 40 years. He’s lived here so long that he identifies with it more as his home than his First Nation in northern Vancouver Island.
“There’s a lot of Native cultures that I engage with and I’m trying to learn from,” he says. “There’s a lot of culture” on the east side, he adds, “a lot of people that share their culture.”
The Indigenous community in East Van is strong and supportive and people take care of each other, especially in times of loss, Jasper says.
But that’s changed slightly, he adds. “Some do help. It used to be back in the day when a lot of them used to be very supportive and helpful for the lost brothers,” he says. “Today, it’s been very hard to gather people together and help the poor people that have lost.”
He can’t explain why things have changed a bit, especially since he still sees urban First Nations coming together and sharing their teachings, songs and dances.
“It’s been amazing to watch, and slowly they’re coming back,” Jasper says. “I’m hoping that it will get straightened up again and we all start taking care of each other again as much like we used to.”
Written by Wawmeesh Hamilton
April 17: The Hip Hop Drop marks its one-year anniversary tonight with a youth rap and singing contest at 1739 Venables St. Prizes for best original song, best freestyle rap and best cover song. Poster here. Promo video here.
April 17 to 18: In honour of National Canadian Film Day, the Bill Reid Gallery will be screening SGAAWAAY K’UUNA: Edge of the Knife at 2 p.m.. You can register here or view the trailer here. At 7:30 p.m., the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association is screening Indian Horse. Tomorrow, the Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society is screening Angry Inuk at 7 p.m.
April 24: Fostering Change will host a panel called “Aging out of Care: Listening to Understand,” where former youth in care will share their stories, from 7 to 9 p.m. at 312 Main St. You can register here.
Events compiled by Sean Murphy
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