A new kind of partnership with First Nations organizations and communities is about to take root at Radio-Canada. I use the word “partnership” because the entire initiative is the product of an ongoing collaborative relationship between the public broadcaster and First Nations.
Luc Simard, Radio-Canada’s Director of Diversity and Community Relations, has been working for over two years on setting up these one-year paid journalism internships for First Nations candidates. Luc was inspired by a similar program launched a few years ago by CBC – a program that has yielded some impressive results. A prime example is the CBC News/Aboriginal portal, which I encourage you to visit if you haven’t done so already.
I might as well say it straight away: Luc and I had a fascinating conversation. Right off the bat, he told me: “This initiative is definitely a win-win situation.” In other words, the one-year internships in four Quebec regional newsrooms (Sept-Îles, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières and Quebec City) will be just as beneficial for Radio-Canada as they are for our Aboriginal partners, who include the First Nations Education Council and the member media organizations of the Société de communication Atikamekw-Montagnais. The interns will be supervised jointly by their Radio-Canada colleagues and the Aboriginal organizations – something that’s never been done before.
Naturally, the goal of the internships is to recruit First Nations journalists and bring them on board Radio-Canada News and Current Affairs; but the collaboration works both ways. The interns will be able to move back and forth between the public broadcaster and the Aboriginal media outlets they came from. This flexible arrangement was a key requirement for the First Nations, as it will allow the interns to share their newfound knowledge and experience. “It’s important to remember that although half of Quebec Aboriginals live in the city, they like to stay in close touch with their roots and their community – the place where their parents and grandparents lived,” Luc said.
For its part, Radio-Canada has everything to gain from this new form of inclusive partnership: not only will the interns allow the public broadcaster to provide more accurate, culturally sensitive coverage of First Nations realities, including noteworthy initiatives taking place in native communities, but they will also bring an Aboriginal perspective to general news reporting. “I’d be very interested in seeing how an Aboriginal reporter tackles environmental or public policy issues,” Luc says.
I, too, look forward to seeing the tangible results of these internships starting this fall. In the meantime, interested First Nations candidates can submit their résumés and cover letters through our corporate website. The deadline is July 15, 2016.
– Jacinthe Lacombe-Cliche, Senior Writer, Enterprise Communications