Today, Urban Nation Discourse is launching a campaign to ask you, our community members, to financially support our reporting on urban Indigenous issues.
Over the past year, I’ve spoken to dozens of people in this community, and you’ve repeatedly told me that you see yourselves reflected poorly in the media — or you don’t see yourselves reflected at all. That’s why we decided to bring our community-powered journalism model to urban Indigenous people in Metro Vancouver.
When you asked us to investigate urban Indigenous cultures, we delivered stories like this one about Robert Williams, the Lawit’sis First Nation man whose language gave him hope during his recovery from a heroin overdose. When we published photos from this year’s Hobiyee celebration in Vancouver, a mother whose 6-year-old son died of cancer, thanked us, saying they reminded her of how much the event made her late son smile. When we discovered that Vancouver city councillors cut an important reconciliation fund in half, we held them accountable. And soon, we’ll be launching the results of a three-month investigation that uncovers the magnitude of fake Indigenous art sold in Vancouver souvenir shops.
Reflecting Urban Nation back to you is important to me not only as an Indigenous person who lives on the border of East Van, but also as a journalist who’s Indigenous. I know there are stories that just aren’t being told. More than 60,000 Indigenous people live in B.C.’s Lower Mainland; towns with populations that size have their own community papers, yet urban Indigenous people had nothing. Somebody had to care — and that someone was Urban Nation Discourse. You’ve also noticed our efforts and have given us encouraging feedback. “Discourse is my go-to news source. It tells the stories that no one else is, and covers community issues that matter. It makes a difference to see those stories reflected — it shows we matter, too,” community member Ginger Gosnell-Myers told me.
Despite the positive feedback, I’m a bit anxious because this is the first time I’m asking for your financial support: Will you tell Urban Nation and the world that our community-powered journalism is worth paying for?
Urban Nation Discourse isn’t yet sustainable. Right now, it’s just my colleague Brielle Morgan and I reporting on the ground, with support from our small team in Vancouver. We’ve been able to do this so far by bootstrapping and with startup funding The Discourse raised from value-aligned investors and partners (read more about where our money comes from and what we spend it on, here). But to continue delivering the news you want to see, Urban Nation Discourse needs your help. We’re asking you to contribute $15 a month — less than the cost of a movie, popcorn and pop — so our journalists can keep reporting on impactful stories about the urban Indigenous community.
Over the coming year, here’s what your support will pay for:
- Weekly newsletters that spotlight in-depth Indigenous news, events and voices from our community, including our urban Indigenous take on why Jody Wilson-Raybould has us so transfixed, and the story of 6-year-old Kyle Hill, whose culture kept him strong as he battled terminal cancer
- Engaging visual storytelling from the people that make our home shine, including this photo series of resilient Indigenous women speaking out, and this video on the power of Indigenous words
- In-depth reporting that highlights the expertise of your community, like our #MomOnTrial series that follows a mother fighting to get her kids out of the child welfare system, and our investigation into why Vancouver city councillors voted to cut a reconciliation fund in half
The Discourse’s goal is to reach 1,000 monthly supporters across our three communities by June 15. This won’t pay for all the work my colleagues and I do, but it will be a major milestone that says we’re on the right track — that the people of Urban Nation care about our journalism and want to keep Urban Nation Discourse around. We strongly believe that our journalism should be accessible to everyone; that’s why our work isn’t behind a paywall. But that only works if those who can afford to pay, actually do.
This is Urban Nation Discourse’s moment of truth. This is when we find out how much you value journalism that reflects what’s important and relevant to you. Become a monthly supporter today and help me spread the word. Can I count on you to be part of it? I await your answer, and as always, I’ll listen.
ICYMI: Highlights from a year of Urban Nation Discourse
- You asked us to investigate how community members sustain and connect to their cultures in the city. So, to kick things off, we asked you to get involved in our investigation into fake Indigenous art. Stay tuned for the results of this investigation, but until then, read this tip sheet for buying authentic Indigenous art.
- Reporter Brielle Morgan has spent nearly a month in court covering this urban Indigenous mom’s child-protection trial as part of our ongoing series, #MomOnTrial. After more than a year of dedicated listening, dozens of parents from across Canada have asked Brielle to cover their child-protection cases, too. Check out the latest investigation from Spotlight: Child Welfare, the community-powered collaborative that Brielle’s leading.
- Urban Nation community member Steven Hall says he “went through a bunch of different struggles of identity,” from being part of the LGBTQ community to accepting that he’s from a lower income family. But Steven’s biggest struggle, as he shared with us in this video, was embracing his identity as Heiltsuk.