Actions and Commitments

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

Toronto Metropolitan University School of Journalism

May 7, 2024

The School of Journalism:

“Study journalism and change the world. Search for the truth and create insightful and engaging news stories. Cultivate transferable and marketable skills in interviewing, critical thinking and research. Learn to put current events in context and understand key issues and trends. Develop professional writing and storytelling techniques for text, audio, visual and social-media formats.

Every day, you will receive hands-on training from the industry experts among our faculty, staff and guest lecturers. When you graduate, you’ll be ahead of the curve with intensive reporting experience in the country’s most vibrant, diverse city and multimedia production in our leading-edge editing suites and digital-first newsrooms. We offer internships and course partnerships in one of North America’s largest media and communications markets. The third year provides an international exchange term in Europe, Asia or Australia.”

The School of Journalism Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Reconciling Journalism

Statement of Intent

The ‘Reconciling Journalism’ website is part of the School of Journalism’s efforts to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Call to Action #86.

The site’s mission is to help improve the coverage of Indigenous stories by encouraging students to expand their knowledge and build relationships with Indigenous communities.

The website’s goal is to provide students and educators with a variety of local and national resources to learn about Indigenous issues and Indigenous communities, as well as context on current issues, such as ongoing conversations about treaty rights and the impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples. 

This site is a safe place to learn and ask questions about best practices for reporting on Indigenous stories and incorporating more Indigenous learning into journalism curriculum.”

Additionally, we are working with the office of Indigenous Initiatives on campus to reorient our students and instructors away from an ‘extractavits’ model of working with Indigenous community members (peers, professors, members of the wider community) toward a much more relational model grounded in being involved in engaging with teachings from elders and others. This, while a good goal for us to structure into our program, is tempered by the current state where thinking about it comes from having to face the fact that it is not currently how many students and faculty operate now. We hope to change that but we aren’t there yet and we have some way to go.

There is a need for increased cultural awareness and information sharing between units and departments, but “mandatory” training is not practiced at Ryerson. There needs to be something more systemic that is driven from the top.

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. 

We have enshrined call #86 into our undergraduate program level learning outcomes going forward as a part of a current on-going 2-year long program review. These learning objectives are used to keep us accountable to the province, the university, and our students to ensure that we reflect on how we achieve introducing ideas, reinforcing them, and ensuring ‘proficiency’ or concrete actions or dispositions that take this learning forward into future work. As a result of this, we will be taking a close look at how call to action #86 can and must live more widely across mandatory as well as elective courses in our curriculum. This work will be further bolstered by the university’s Standing Strong Task Force findings that enable and require us to do this thoughtfully and comprehensively. 

All of Toronto Metropolitan University’s first-year journalism students will be participating in a virtual tour of the Mohawk Institute Residential School this September. The tour will be followed by a discussion with cultural interpreters from the Woodland Cultural Centre as part of the School of Journalism’s efforts to answer the Call to Action #86.

Karyn Pugliese, executive editor at Canada’s National Observer and a visiting Algonquin journalist at TMU, identified three reasons it’s important for journalism students to learn and visit residential schools. 

  1. Properly contextualizing Indigenous issues.
  2. Allow them the opportunity to reflect on their perceptions of Canada. “Canada’s record on human rights does not live up to its image. Recognizing the truth is key to restorative justice and, therefore, reconciliation,” said Pugliese.
  3. Gives journalism students an understanding of the systemic racism that is present within different Canadian institutions to this day.”

School of Journalism’s Commitment to Call to Action # 86: 4 out of 5 = 80%

1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools occurs presently at the first-year level and in places across our curriculum. We have committed to following through to more broadly integrate this at other stages as well. 
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
No. Not explicitly identified.
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
Yes. We have codified components of courses that (below) we are enshrining into our overall program objectives that will require us to ensure that these are better and more clearly present across the program going forward.
4Indigenous law
Yes. Similar to above with the additional notation that in our Law and Ethics course we discuss different experiences of journalism though we do not directly cover Indigenous laws regularly 
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes. This topic comes up across a variety of courses but will require further intentionality to be more regularly considered. 
Land Acknowledgement

Located on “Reconciliation Journalism” Home Page:

“Toronto is in the ‘Dish With One Spoon Territory.’ The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

The “Dish,” or sometimes it is called the “Bowl,” represents what is now southern Ontario, from the Great Lakes to Quebec and from Lake Simcoe into the United States. We all eat out of the Dish, all of us that share this territory, with only one spoon. That means we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the dish is never empty, which includes taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with. Importantly, there are no knives at the table, representing that we must keep the peace. The dish is graphically represented by the wampum pictured above.

This was a treaty made between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee after the French and Indian War. Newcomers were then incorporated into it over the years, notably in 1764 with The Royal Proclamation/The Treaty of Niagara.”

All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The Toronto Metropolitan University School of Journalism reviewed and approved the document.

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