Actions and Commitments

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

University of Toronto Scarborough – Department of Arts, Culture and Media’s Journalism (Joint Program)

May 7, 2024

“Why study Journalism at UTSC?:

  • UTSC offers a joint program of study with Centennial College with the best of both theoretical and the practical, with an Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto and an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Contemporary Journalism from Centennial College
  • UTSC provides Journalism students with the best approaches to critical thinking and understanding of the world of Journalism. 
  • You will learn to report, write and produce mobile and multiplatform journalism in a fast-paced real news environment. 
  • Centennial College Journalism gives students the skills and the tools they need to be successful in the rapidly changing media landscape
  • You will learn and demonstrate the skills of a contemporary mobile journalist, telling stories with words, images and video. 
  • You will talk to and report on newsmakers using the latest digital technologies and social media. 
  • The UTSC/Centennial Joint Journalism program arranges four-month internships with a range of the best news organizations in Canada’s media capital – Toronto
  • Our graduates go on to successful careers in journalism (both in Canada and abroad), media, graduate school, law school and corporate communications.”

Centennial College Scarborough’s campus: Journalism

Students in Journalism can earn an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree and an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Contemporary Journalism while learning from leading academics and professionals. The program focuses on the critical thinking, research, writing and communications skills needed to examine issues concerning news media, journalism and society. Students learn to tell the story from every angle in every media form relevant to today’s audiences. Graduates take with them a portfolio demonstrating experience gained from producing a real community newspaper, online publications and internet radio, and are ready for professional careers in the media or in public and private sector communications.

Get a head start on your career by combining the best in university and college education. The University of Toronto and Centennial College joint programs offer exceptional faculty at the forefront of their fields and real experience in cutting-edge environments.”

The Faculty of Journalism Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

The Journalism program at UTSC, which is a joint program with Centennial College, has begun to integrate a greater variety of Indigenous-focused content into its curriculum, including the showing of documentary films, and the sending of students to Winnipeg to work on a series for the National Post on missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

Reconciling Journalism

The University of Toronto’s Answering the Call Wecheehetowin: Final Report of the Steering Committee for the University of Toronto Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was published January 2017. The report entitled Wecheehetowin, which means “working together” in Cree, 

includes 34 calls to action for U of T in the following areas:

  • Indigenous spaces
  • Indigenous faculty and staff
  • Indigenous curriculum
  • Indigenous research ethics and community relationships
  • Indigenous students and co-curricular education
  • Institutional leadership and implementation

The Indigenous Curriculum section goes on to emphasize that “Indigenous thought and philosophies must be accepted as sources of knowledge equal to the knowledge of other disciplines” and that “Indigenous learning must be identified as a priority” in all strategic and divisional plans. On the specific question of integrating Indigenous content into the curriculum, the Curriculum group recommended that “every U of T student should gain awareness of Indigenous content” (emphasis added) 

And also, the group “emphasized that given that it was divisions that make curricular decisions, each faculty or division should determine how to integrate content “into the broader curriculum…” 

Other Initiatives

The Department of Arts, Culture and Media (ACM) is the home to UTSC’s Journalism program, alongside seven other undergraduate programs.  As a department, ACM has sought to bring staffing, curriculum, programming decisions to better engage Indigenous experiences and knowledge.  A new colleague was welcomed though an Indigenous (Digital) Arts, Culture and Media faculty search in 2023/2024 and another faculty position related to Black, Indigenous, or other racialized experiences and related scholarship has been posted for a 2024/2025 start.  

The two Co-Directors of the Specialist (Joint) Program in Journalism were also “Faculty Fellows in Decolonizing the Curriculum” over 2023-2024, working over the year with teaching specialists from outside the university to revamp their own courses, approach to teaching, and student supervision in research. In 2022/2023, led by the ACMs Theatre and Performance Studies program in response to the National Day for Truth Reconciliation, students and faculty participated in weekly readings of evidence and experiences highlighted in the TRC Report.

Earlier initiatives saw the journalism faculty working with a racial justice and decolonization specialist to develop a resource toolkit for part time and continuing journalism instructors in 2017. There is explicit engagement with Indigenous methods in our required first and second year courses for journalism, while more senior courses may also engage with Indigenous histories, communities, and journalisms depending on the instructor and their syllabus choices for that year. 

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 CourseLimited

JOUA02H3 Introduction to Journalism II,

This required foundational journalism course has been redesigned and relaunched in 2023/2024 to focus on how newsmakers and journalism must reckon with its settler colonial history, grounding this analysis in scholarship and case studies on Indigenous activism, media, and representation throughout the course. Central to this are course readings authored or co-authored by Indigenous journalists and scholars. This syllabus draws on an earlier required course, which ran from 2017-2021, that included aspects of Indigenous methodology and ethics in every assigned chapter. 

JOUB02H3 Critical Journalism 

This required course examines Journalism from several critical, intersectional lenses including Indigeneity.  Since 2017 instructors have had the benefit of a Critical Journalism Teaching and Research Toolkit, which they can draw on in designing the course each year, including news-based case studies, introductory and advanced academic articles, and best-practice guides form industry for each critical lens. 

Department’s Commitment to Call to Action # 86:  2.5 out of 5 = 50%

1The history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools
Yes. See mandatory course descriptions above
2The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Yes. See mandatory course descriptions above
3Treaties and Aboriginal rights
No. Not explicitly referenced or explored beyond discussing regional differences in case studies in a manner that is dependent on the instructor’s planning and course design. 
4Indigenous law
No. Not explicitly referenced
5Aboriginal–Crown Relations
Yes, but limited: Only some modules explore in detail the specific failings of federal agencies and within the context of different news stories and case studiesin a manner that is dependent on the instructor’s planning and course design.

Land Acknowledgement

The University of Toronto Scarborough and the University of Toronto website have a running banner with an acknowledgement and link to the Statement of Acknowledgement of Traditional Land:

I (we) wish to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.