By Jena Lynde-Smith

Three first-year Master of Journalism (MJ) students, Rukhsar Ali, Joy SpearChief-Morris and Natalia Weichsel, have been awarded Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS).

Rukhsar Ali

OGS is a prestigious award valued at up to $15,000 and is offered jointly by Carleton and the Province of Ontario. The scholarship is awarded to graduate students who demonstrate a high-level of academic excellence, making it extremely competitive in nature. Applicants must maintain a minimum of an A- in their last two years of study. This year’s three winners exceeded these requirements, upholding A averages.

Ali said the funding will help finance her Master’s Research Project (MRP) — a podcast series that is looking at hate crimes against Black and Muslim women in the Prairies. She will be travelling to Edmonton this summer to conduct her research.

“Since December 2020, there has been an increase of reported hate crimes against Black and Muslim women in Alberta and the greater Prairie region including Saskatchewan and Manitoba; often the victims are individuals who occupy all three of these identities,” Ali’s research proposal reads.

Ali is a writer, artist and storyteller. She graduated from the University of Calgary with a B.A. in English. Joining Carleton’s Master of Journalism program in 2021, she said she aspires to work in broadcast journalism, using her skills to amplify stories that represent marginalized communities.

“I see my degree setting me up to tackle important issues and bring stories that need to be told to light,” Ali said.

Joy SpearChief-Morris

SpearChief-Morris plans to use her OGS to fund her research as well. Her MRP will focus on how adopting Indigenous worldviews can improve bear conservation and management in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

“In recent years, Parks Canada has expressed a desire to consult with Indigenous nations on conservation efforts,” SpearChief-Morris wrote in her MRP proposal. “Many Indigenous nations have stories about bears that inform Indigenous worldviews, spirituality and relationships with bears. I wish to explore these stories amongst the Indigenous nations whose lands have become known as Banff National Parks, Waterton Lakes National Park and the provincial parks within the Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country and Crowsnest Pass regions.”

SpearChief-Morris is writer, advocate, and athlete. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and First Nations Studies and a Master’s degree in Political Science from Western University. She said she joined Carleton’s Master of Journalism program to help bring stories of Indigenous and Black people in Canada to the forefront of Canadian journalism.

“After completing my MJ degree I hope to be working full time as a journalist at a major daily,” she said. “Eventually I would like to move into more long form feature writing and investigative work and perhaps host a podcast,” she said.

Weichsel will be using her OGS award to fund the travel that will be required for her MRP. Her video documentary will look at restrictive abortion access in Poland.

“I want to look at how laws are impacting people who get pregnant, and how the issue has exploded with an influx of refugees from Ukraine,” she said.

Natalia Weichsel

Weichsel is very interested in international human rights as well as digital media, with a strong passion for photography and documentary film making. She is also an educator and has worked as a music teacher, language tutor and English as a Second Language instructor. Prior to joining Carleton, Weichsel completed her degree in French Studies from the University of Winnipeg. She said she hopes to work in a stimulating and diverse environment after her masters degree.

“I noticed that I tend to gravitate towards broadcast and radio journalism. I find that these two mediums give me lots of opportunities to creatively tell stories. I am also very interested in foreign affairs and would one day hope to work abroad. Considering that I speak three languages fluently (Polish, English and French), I am eager to see how my skills transfer to an international journalism environment,” Weichsel said.

Ali, SpearChief-Morris and Weichsel have been described by their professors as passionate and hard-working. Sarah Everts, the Graduate Supervisor for the Master of Journalism program, said she expects them both to thrive in their careers as journalists.

“Joy, Rukhsar and Natalia are all exceptional students and very deserving of the award,” Everts said. “They show incredible promise as journalists, and I’m delighted by their success.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in ,
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