by Erin Blondeau
Having the opportunity to work with CBC Indigenous through the CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship was an incredible experience. In just four weeks, I learned about the process of working in a newsroom, made meaningful connections, and published a story that I am very proud of.
Each morning of the four-week fellowship, I joined the daily news briefings and participated in a fast-paced work environment alongside producers and editors. This was a welcome change from my routine as an independent journalist. As a freelancer, I would often spend nights working on a story and getting lost in the potential directions I could take. On those late nights, I realized that I was missing the guidance and camaraderie that comes from working with a team.
That guidance and camaraderie is what I found during my short time with CBC Indigenous.
I knew going into the fellowship that I have a specific interest in investigative journalism, and especially in stories that tell the truth about the climate emergency. In a perfect twist of good luck, my fellowship took place one month before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt (COP27). Knowing this, the editors encouraged me to write a story about COP27 so we could publish it right before the conference. After doing some digging, I found a story about an Indigenous coalition that was working to raise awareness about a coal mine expansion – a controversial fossil fuel project that has both supporters and opponents. With the help and guidance of the CBC Indigenous team, I interviewed several people to hear why they supported or opposed the mine. I also interviewed a lawyer working on a court case involving the mine and reviewed court documents.
When I had an idea on where to take my story, I was always encouraged to follow my gut. When I needed advice on how to approach difficult conversations, I was met with patience and mentorship. At one point, I became stuck trying to access court documents and legal information – in these instances, the team was very supportive and helped me access the files I needed in order to tell an accurate and balanced story.
I am immensely grateful for the training and expertise the producers and editors offered me as I worked on my complex story.
Check out Erin’s article: Fight against coal mine expansion to be brought to UN climate change conference.
Details on the 2022 CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowships.
THE CJF THANKS THE FOLLOWING FOR THEIR GENEROUS SUPPORT:
ISABEL BASSETT, Former Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation and former chair and CEO of TVO