Nikki Wiart was one of two recipients of the 2015 CJF Aboriginal Journalism Fellowships. She accepted the award at the CJF Awards in Toronto on June 3. View the acceptance speeches by Wiart and the other fellowship recipient, Wawmeesh G. Hamilton. (Photo: CNW John Packman/CJF)
I was lucky to be sitting in the CBC Aboriginal corner of the newsroom on June 2 — the day the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its findings. It was just the second day of my Fellowship, and a monumental day for Aboriginal people in Canada.
What happened that day fuelled a lot of my research going forward.
I entered this Fellowship thinking I would be doing stories on the long-term effects foster care can have on Aboriginal youth. And that is what I researched initially. But what I found was there were so many heartbreaking stories online already, and I wanted to bring some positivity to the table.
What could we do instead? What’s working? And why?
In the beginning, it was hard. It was hard getting people to phone me or email me back; narrowing in on a focus; navigating Winnipeg in rush hour traffic. But then something just clicked, and it all came together.
Cate, Kim and the rest of the crew at CBC in Winnipeg were beyond helpful and patient; sharing their contacts with me, and providing me with valuable feedback on my work. In the end, I came away from the Fellowship with four bylines and two radio spots.
• Aboriginal kids in care: 4 approaches to improve Canada's track record
• Foster care program for aboriginal families boasts 70% success rate (Up to Speed and Unreserved)
• Early intervention could prevent CFS apprehensions, Winnipeg mom says
• Crowd-sourced video project aims to make TRC report more accessible
Being in Manitoba wasn’t just about sharing the stories of others. I also had the chance to learn a little bit more about my own story. I’m Métis, with roots tracing back to the Red River area; the Winnipeg area. Being there gave me the chance to explore that history and understand Métis culture a little bit better.
To the staff at CBC Aboriginal and CBC Radio, and to everyone at The Canadian Journalism Foundation, thank you, thank you, thank you for making this possible. I know I’m a better journalist because of this experience.
Read the details of the CJF Aboriginal Journalism Fellowships before applying.
THE CANADIAN JOURNALISM FOUNDATION THANKS THE GENEROUS SUPPORTERS OF THIS AWARD:
Rosemary Speirs, CJF Honorary Governor
Trina McQueen, CJF Honorary Governor
Isabel Bassett, former chair and CEO, TVO