Actions and Commitments

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

Langara College – Faculty of Arts’ Department of Journalism

April 16, 2024

The Journalism Program prepares students for careers in the fields of journalism and communications.

Diploma Program

The two-year diploma program is intended for those with or without previous post-secondary experience, in which students will take a combination of journalism, communications, and liberal arts courses. There will be a mandatory foundation of introductory journalism and communications courses. Students will also have the choice to concentrate on advanced journalism, advanced communications, as well as non-journalism subjects. An internship in the final term is a required component of the program.

Certificate Program

The eight-month certificate program is designed for those with post-secondary education to take specialized journalism and communications training at an accelerated pace. This intensive, skills-oriented experience is designed to build on a student’s academic background, providing the student with the tools to work as a well-informed journalist or professional communicator. The first semester focuses on introductory and basic skills courses; the second semester on advanced practices.

The Department of Journalism’s Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

The Langara Journalism department recognizes the importance of the TRC Call to Action and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Article Progress Report. We are committed to actively working to incorporate and implement the Calls to Action and / or Indigenous components in our program. 

It is vital that Indigenous students have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the curriculum, and non-Indigenous students to build skills and knowledge to understand Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous issues at the local, national and global levels.

Langara College Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and Reconcilation at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara is an ongoing commitment that takes the efforts of all non-Indigenous students and colleagues across our college community on personal, professional, and academic levels.

Then Truth and Reconciliation Commission 2015 report has calls applicable to the education sector specifically in Calls #62 and #63, and requires professional development training for public servants in Call #57; these and many other calls are applicable throughout Langara and we encourage you to become familiar with them.

Learn more about Musqueam, how the college got its Indigenous name, snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, and the relationship between Musqueam and Langara here

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: Content distributed across multiple courses

The five topics identified in Call to Action # 86 are distributed throughout our courses rather than in a single course. For the development of a recent program redesign, we brought in the college’s Indigenous Curriculum Consultant in the Teaching and Curriculum Development Centre to advise us.

The new program, which we are still tweaking, encourages incoming students to use their electives to specialize in areas of interest, specifically Aboriginal studies. This option was chosen due to the high level of interest students have shown historically, as well as an intentional response to the call to action for journalism schools to educate all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples.

Mandatory Courses with Indigenous content:

JOUR 1100 – Introduction to News Media 

This course examines the function, values, and principles of journalism including accuracy, impartiality, and ethics as well as the current challenges facing the media industry. Students also explore the ways in which news media seeks to enable citizens to make informed decisions in a democratic society and analyze how well it is currently fulfilling that role. 

Part of the course looks at systemic racism in the Canadian media, especially within the context of colonialism and its effect on Indigenous peoples. One lecture goes into detail about different racialized groups in the military, with photos and audio. While this course isn’t a history course, it provides context for the examples of media stories examined. 

JOUR 1168 – Photo Journalism

As part of this course, students have the opportunity to cover First Nations events and to discuss the photojournalist role in understanding and respecting cultural sensitivities.

JOUR 2380 – Civic Reporting 

This course now includes a module on Indigenous governance, treaty negotiations and the Indian Act and how they are a critical part of civic reporting beats as new Indigenous governments are being created in B.C. We include a guest speaker who is an authority on these issues (last term, it was a prominent Squamish Nation leader and developer) and encourage students to pursue stories highlighting these new government relations. 

JOUR 2458 – Feature Writing 
In this course, the class looks at alternative forms of storytelling and students are encouraged to consider oral traditions. As an example, student Kaity Hensel last spring wrote a 1,200-word feature story on her grandmother’s residential school experience. It was the first time the writer asked her grandmother for an interview. 

JOUR 1225 Media Law and Ethics
This course, which examines the importance and practice of professional conduct or ethical behaviour in journalism, includes two important assignments in which students are asked to go through historical news reports of residential schools and how the issues might be covered today and how they would want to write up the news story. The course also does the same assignment using historical news photographs that the students find and discuss in class. 

Journalism law includes a unit on how Indigenous people are overrepresented in the justice system and how the system is attempting to deal with that. The students learn about First Nations Court, Gladue reports in sentencing and restorative justice within Aboriginal communities. An Indigenous guest speaker, Mikelle Sasaskamoose, a former journalist who writes Gladue reports, has presented to the class each term since 2019. Students also learn about the recommendations made by both the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

JOUR 1122 – Introduction to Media Research Techniques / JOUR 1224 Investigative Reporting 

In both research and investigative reporting, students are provided with detailed information about how to find and use Indigenous sources for both story ideas and comments. Examples of investigations done by journalists into mistreatment and systemic abuse of Indigenous people in Canada on topics like Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, racialized police abuse and substandard drinking water on reserves are part of the curriculum. As well, the work of Indigenous investigative journalists is highlighted.

JOUR 1288 – Radio Storytelling and Podcasting

In this course, the instructor encourages students to cover diverse stories of Indigenous cultures and all cultures, including their own backgrounds. The instructor invites guest speakers of diverse cultures to class to speak, mainly about journalism but also to touch upon how their cultural identities have had an impact on their careers. Specifically, this class invited an Indigenous elder to speak last year.

JOUR 1142 and 1240 – Basic Copy Editing and Advanced Copy Editing

This course highlights for students updated conventions for Indigenous organizations, peoples and nations in Canadian Press style and other style manuals used in Canada.

JOUR 1224  Investigative Journalism

As a follow-up to the fall participation of the Climate Disaster Project, several students took a deeper dive into some of the issues facing Indigenous communities following climate disasters.

Other Initiatives:

General Speakers

Each term, we bring in guests to speak to our journalism students about reporting on Indigenous issues and reporting in Indigenous communities. Last year, we invited Elder-in-Residence Mary Jane Joe, from the Ntle’kepmx Nation, who shared her cultural knowledge, protocol, stories, perspectives and insights.

We also invited communications professional and editor Alison Tedford Seaweed to speak to our students about covering Indigenous communities and individuals. Megaphone Magazine also visited with its editor and two Indigenous writers to speak to students on the same issues with specific focus on the Downtown Eastside.

Special projects

Last fall, we distributed $8,000 to five students who signed up for the Climate Disaster Project, an international endeavor that reports on the impacts of natural disasters in communities around the world. Much of the work our students did was focused on Indigenous communities in B.C. who endured significant impacts from wildfires and floods. The project was funded through a grant from J-Schools Canada, and we are applying again for a grant this year with developing plans to create a special Indigenous Reporting module for advanced students.

Megaphone Magazine Fellowship

We are continuing our partnership with non-profit Vancouver-based magazine Megaphone on a project called the Community Journalism Mentorship Program. The aim is to have peers with lived experience receive basic journalism training so they are better equipped to tell the stories of their communities to a broader audience. 

Langara’s Journalism department covers the tuition of two mentored Megaphone peers, many of whose reporters are Indigenous, to take our Fundamentals of Journalism course. These experienced peers can then go on to mentor other student peer journalists in their communities. They also provide their fellow students in the course with valuable insights into their lived experiences.

1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. Topic is addressed through some of the mandatory courses (see above)
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
No.  Not specifically addressed
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. Topic is addressed through some of the mandatory courses (see above)
4Indigenous law
No. Not specifically addressed 
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. Topic is addressed through some of the mandatory courses (see above)

Land Acknowledgement

Locates on the Langara College Home Page, under “About

snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College acknowledges its location on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam First Nation, and is working to strengthen the connections between the Musqueam and the College in a number of ways.

All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. Langara College – Faculty of Arts’ Department of Journalism responded to our submission.

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