Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 86: Media and Reconciliation (84-86)

Algonquin College – The School of Media & Design Journalism program 

April 24, 2024

The two-year School of Media and Design Journalism program equips you with the versatile creative and technical skills you need to report and research accurate stories for readers, listeners and viewers. Alongside experienced, industry-connected faculty, you develop the core journalistic skills required to report on your areas of interest. These may include people, current affairs or specialized sectors like sports, the environment, social justice, entertainment or gaming.

As a student, you become a staff member with the Algonquin Times, our award-winning campus newspaper, and Glue magazine, our Ottawa-wide student publication. 

The Journalism Program’s Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

School of Media Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Promise Statement (Working draft – Spring 2021)

Algonquin College’s School of Media community commits to building an environment where each person feels valued, seen, reflected and respected. This promise statement serves as an acknowledgement of and attempt to redress the systemic failures when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion that have persisted, and continue to persist, in our nation, communities and classrooms. Our students, staff and faculty members learn, teach and collaborate in spaces that respect diversity, honour inclusivity and support equity.

Those of us in positions of power and privilege (including deans, chairs, faculty, support staff and learners) commit to ensuring a safe space for ALL to learn by:

  • Identifying and correcting discriminatory, prejudiced or intimidating comments and behaviour in the classroom.
  • Acknowledging systemic issues related to marginalized groups (including those represented by gender, race, age, religion, physical disabilities, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, and socioeconomic status).
  • Reviewing course content and materials to ensure better representation from BIPOC and other marginalized perspectives.
  • Committing to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Call to Action #86: “We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal– Crown relations.” 

All members of our community commit to the following actions:

  • Staying open and curious to the lived experiences of our fellow community members. Empathy fosters true learning.
  • Seeking opportunities in and outside of our classrooms to learn actively about the histories and stories of marginalized people.
  • Protecting our safe, respectful environment, which allows everyone to share, be heard and express their ideas. This includes making room for different points of view, the messiness of debate and the acknowledgement that people can learn, grow and make mistakes.
  • Appreciating the role future and current media professionals can play in helping to create a more knowledgeable, empathetic and informed community.
  • Habitually asking, “Whose voice is missing here? Which stories aren’t being told?”

Algonquin College’s core values are Caring, Learning, Integrity, and Respect. We can only model and live these values by respecting the dignity of humanity, acknowledging the mistakes of our past, addressing the systemic issues of our present and advocating for social justice. As media practitioners, we are stronger and more creative when we work and learn together.

Algonquin College Strategic Plan 2022-2025

Algonquin College, however, does make a formal Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation as follows:

“We have also deepened our commitment to embracing Indigenous knowledge and practices and to understanding how they can inform and enhance what we do. You will find examples of these practices throughout this plan, and we are committing to ensuring that our work aligns with our refreshed strategic directions.”  Message from Board Chair and President.

TRI at Algonquin

At Algonquin College, we recognize that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, and that we welcome learners from all across Turtle Island. We are committed to respecting that heritage and making Indigenous values part of how the College operates. 

Throughout the planning journey, we incorporated Indigenous knowledge and storytelling to help ground and focus our work. We adopted the approach of Two-Eyed Seeing, a research method developed by Albert Marshall, a Mi’kmaq Elder, and researchers at Cape Breton University. With this approach, we examine the world around us with both Western and Indigenous perspectives. Just as when we see with two eyes at once, we discover more depth and detail by incorporating an Indigenous approach. According to Elder Marshall, the Indigenous perspective “is about life: what you do, what kind of responsibilities you have, how you should live while on Earth … i.e., a guiding principle that covers all aspects of our lives: social, economic, environmental, etc. The advantage of Two-Eyed Seeing is that you are always fine tuning your mind into different places at once, you are always looking for another perspective and better way of doing things.”

We need to continue to integrate Indigenous practices throughout our work. Rather than having a single goal related to Truth and Reconciliation or Indigeneity, we must be committed to adapting our processes and practices to honour and reflect Indigenous ways of knowing. We need to extend the Two-Eyed Seeing approach into all that we do.

Call to Action # 86

We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. 

Mandatory Course: Yes. Content integrated into multiple courses.

Across our courses we reference Duncan McCue’s Decolonizing Journalism and its resources frequently. 

JU001: Storytelling Fundamentals

In order to be factual storytellers who serve communities, journalists need to become familiar with core journalism concepts including what constitutes news, where it comes from and how to report it responsibly. Students explore how to respect the story, the storyteller, and the storytelling process. Students identify and find news stories; explore how to develop relevant, diverse news formats; practise how to interview; identify how to stay committed to factual accuracy; and practise how to ensure diverse and inclusive news sources are used. Through consistent and diverse news consumption, study of Indigenous histories, interviews and streeters, news writing assignments and journals, students gain the foundational skills they need to report for written, audio and visual news sources.

Course Learning Requirement:

  • Examine Indigenous history as per TRC Action Item 86 to develop a broader perspective for storytelling. 
    • Explain the intention and goal of the Truth and Reconciliation Action’s Item 86 
    • Discuss and explore the history of the Algonquin people who have lived for thousands of years in what is now the Ottawa Valley 
    • Identify the reporting methods all storytellers must follow when working with Indigenous sources or reporting in Indigenous communities 
    • Apply empathetic reporting techniques when reporting for and about Indigenous communities 

JU003 Media Law and Ethics

Journalists play an essential role in a functioning Canadian democracy, providing accurate and objective stories that Canadians can trust. Students examine the ethical need to report on stories that represent all citizens’ histories and experiences, particularly of First Nation, Inuit, and Metis peoples and of those who have been marginalized. Students explore libel and its defences, how reporters cover court and the rights reporters and photographers have at news scenes. They also examine how reporters interact with the police, issues around free speech and using anonymous sources. On the ethics front, students explore acceptable and unacceptable behaviours for journalists, common ethical challenges and frameworks to help guide reporters to solutions. Through case studies, guest speakers, court reporting exercises and group discussions, students develop practical skills that reporters and editors must have.

JU006 Level 2 JOU0006 Journalism Techniques 

Reporters and editors require a strong foundation in ethics, laws and professional practises of their journalistic craft. Beats such as court, crime, sports, entertainment, politics, technology and gaming are explored. Students examine empathetic reporting including strategies for reporting in First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities and other marginalized communities. Students also develop the critical thinking approaches required to write opinion pieces and features. Students explore protocols and practices for staying safe online.

Course Learning Requirement

  • Describe strategies for reporting in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities that acknowledge the cultural values and context of the communities.  (VLO 1, 4, 10) (EES 1, 8, 11) 
    • Explain the differences between the terms First Nation, Inuit and Métis when describing Indigenous communities 
    • Discuss how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action informs news reporting on Indigenous communities
    • Identify sources who can help provide key insights and context for stories on Indigenous communities 
    • Identify story ideas about Indigenous peoples and communities beyond covering events and national days of recognition 
1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. Addressed by JU001 – Storytelling Fundamentals
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
No. No explicit reference
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. Addressed by JU001 – Storytelling Fundamentals
4Indigenous law
Yes. JU003 – Media Law and Ethics
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. Addressed by JU001 – Storytelling Fundamentals

Land Acknowledgement

The School of Media and Design’s website did not include the college’s Land Acknowledgement:

“Land Acknowledgement”

Algonquin College campuses (Ottawa, Pembroke and Perth) are located on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin People. The Algonquin People have inhabited and cared for these lands long before today. We take this time to show our gratitude and respect to them and to the land for all that it provides us: trees to give shade, water and food to sustain us, and paths to connect us. As a post-secondary institution, we embrace the responsibility to help ensure that the next generations of land stewards are respectful and grateful for the bounty of this land on which we all live, work, play, and study.  

We commit to continue to explore and make meaningful contributions to the Calls to Action that result from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).”

All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The Algonquin College – The School of Media & Design Journalism program reviewed and approved the document.

Managing Editor: Douglas Sinclair: Publisher, Indigenous Watchdog
Lead Researcher, Timothy Maton, Ph.D