In Brooke Forbes’s world of telling stories with sound, one of her passions was helping young people from racialized backgrounds experience the joy of radio.

The long-time CBC radio producer died in 2006, but her memory lives on through the Brooke Forbes Award for Internships in the Field of Audio Production. So far, the generous fund has subsidized three students – and counting – from Carleton’s journalism program.

Photo of Brooke Forbes (second from left) at one of her radio camps

The recipients this year are BJ4 Wafa El-Rayes and master’s student Yumna Iftikhar.

El-Rayes used her award to move temporarily to Toronto this spring to intern at the Globe and Mail’s podcast, The Decibel. She said the opportunity to work on the daily show has solidified her aspiration to explore a career in audio production.

Photo of Wafa El-Rayes

“I grew up in a household where we always had the radio on,” said El-Rayes, whose Arab-Canadian family admired CBC journalist Nahlah Ayed, among others. Ayed is a former CBC Middle East correspondent, current host of the CBC radio program, Ideas, and a Carleton Journalism graduate.

Photo of Yumna Iftikhar

Iftikhar, who recently wrapped up six weeks covering Parliament Hill for the CBC, described the internship as “the perfect spot” for her, given her strong interest in Canadian and international politics.

Iftikhar, who was born in Pakistan and grew up in St. John’s, NL, said the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. motivated her to pursue journalism. She was living at the time with her family on the Caribbean island Montserrat and she said they felt that the media were unfairly putting Muslims “all in one box.”

Securing a Brooke Forbes scholarship was “absolute relief,” said Iftikhar, who is entering the second year of the MJ program. “I have been able to put in many more hours at the CBC than I thought, not having to work at any other job.”

Photo of Rukhsar Ali

Rukhsar Ali, who graduated from the MJ program this spring, was the inaugural recipient of the award after Carleton was selected as the new home of the legacy fund in 2021. Ali used her scholarship to intern for six weeks in 2022 at Front Burner, CBC’s daily news podcast.

The funding is the gift of friends of Forbes. A close friend and colleague of Forbes, Joan Andersen, began and led the fund for 15 years in honour of Forbes’s work creating and running a CBC summer camp for racialized students.  Other friends and colleagues, inspired by Forbes’s commitment to equity, contributed generously, so that charitable organizations were given grants to teach radio production to young people. In 2021, Andersen and the advisers working with her decided the fund should be run by Carleton’s journalism program.

The fund reflects Forbes’s values by aiming to address issues of systemic racism through the creation of accessible opportunities for racialized students.

The Toronto-born Forbes knew the importance of diversity and knew that radio had to better represent the range of cultures and identities in Canada. She also understood the importance of joy, fun, music and adventure. And she was much loved.

She was a producer on the flagship shows As It Happens, Sunday Morning and The Sunday Edition during the more than 20 years she worked at CBC.

Forbes used the audio platform to educate and engage listeners on important societal issues and looked for ways for radio to better represent Canada’s cultures and identities.

The award is given on a rolling basis to equity-deserving journalism students.

“The fund is an important step toward advancing the journalism program’s commitment to educating students in ways that foster equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Allan Thompson, Carleton’s Journalism Program Head.

“Providing real-world experiences for racialized students helps them secure jobs upon graduation and work in a media industry that desperately needs a diversity facelift,” Thompson added.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 in ,
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