By Jena Lynde-Smith

Five days, 349 students, 11 classrooms, two drop-in sessions, and one faculty gathering – CBC journalist Duncan McCue left his mark on Carleton University’s School of Journalism.

McCue spent the last week of January with the School as a practitioner-in-residence. He coached students and faculty on respectful approaches to reporting on Indigenous communities –  approaches that could be implemented without sacrificing core journalistic standards.

“That means doing our best to understand the cultural protocols of the communities we are reporting on, and doing our best to adapt our journalism practices to work with those communities,” he said.

As part of the School’s ongoing efforts toward meeting obligations laid out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 86, journalism program head Susan Harada started talking to McCue about spending time at the school back in the summer.

“I knew that having Duncan with us as practitioner-in-residence, even for one short week, would be an invaluable opportunity for our journalism students and instructors,” she said.

And invaluable it was.

McCue engaging in a discussion with students in Professor Allan Thompson’s course JOUR 1002, Foundations of Journalism, on Jan. 30.

Students were asked many questions to get them thinking about stigma.

In a drop-in session held for students on Jan. 29, McCue shared his top five tips for reporting on Indigenous communities.

His first tip was: “ask dumb questions. Don’t feel because you don’t know something that you’re going to offend somebody by just asking them.”

Students were excited about the time they were able to spend learning from McCue, and he shared that enthusiasm.

“I don’t expect any students to immediately become an expert on reporting in Indigenous communities from a one- to two-hour session, it requires opportunities to practice skills and get feedback on their journalism. But many students told me they had learned some valuable tips that gave them some insight into how to improve their approach to reporting in Indigenous communities, and I’m pleased to hear that,” he said.

McCue and Vince Kicknosway from the Odawa Native Friendship Centre pictured with Professors Aneurin Bosley and Randy Boswell and their advanced multimedia class, JOUR 4003/5003.

Aside from speaking with students, McCue held an information session for faculty members. He also spent time connecting with members of Carleton’s Indigenous community – John Kelly and Shelby Lisk. Kelly is an adjunct research professor in journalism, serves as co-director of Carleton University’s Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language and Education (CIRCLE) and is a member of the university’s Aboriginal Education Council, while Lisk is the School’s TVO journalist-in-residence and a reporter for the network’s Indigenous hub.

Kelly, Lisk and McCue at Carleton’s Ojigkwanong Centre.

McCue’s time as a practitioner-in-residence – made possible with the support of the Faculty of Public Affairs – was well spent. When asked if there were any thoughts he’d like to leave with the faculty and students of Carleton’s journalism school, he reinforced his points about acting respectfully.

“I do suggest we can be more thoughtful and creative about respecting Indigenous understandings of time, gifting, reciprocity, elders and other matters of cultural importance. The result, I hope, is that our news stories will be richer and we will have more of them, as we start to build better long-term relationships with Indigenous communities.”

Friday, March 6, 2020 in ,
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