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Indigenous Community Media Development

ACF14612 Journalists for Human Rights Thunder Bay

Created October  3, 2012 by Journalists for Human Rights


Thunder Bay

Funding Level

$100k - 150k (< 2014)

Community Size

More than 1,000


Project Objectives

1.       To strengthen the capacity of Aboriginal people based in remote communities to produce news stories for both Aboriginal and mainstream media outlets in Northern Ontario. This will be done through extensive, on-the-ground training in rights media principles and journalism best-practices by expert journalism trainers.

2.       To ensure that journalists in Thunder Bay are working with members of the Aboriginal community to report accurately and fairly on issues concerning the community.  This objective will be reached through workshops and open community forums that journalists and members of the Aboriginal community attend on a bi-weekly basis. 

Over the past year Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), in partnership with the Wawatay Native Communications Society, has conducted an extensive needs-assessment with hundreds of journalists, Aboriginal community members, Aboriginal leaders, government officials and media experts in Northern Ontario. This was done to determine the feasibility of a media development program aimed at meeting the objectives above. Through these consultations JHR was able to design a project  that  truly serves the long term needs of JHR's community partners and supporters.  

Project Activities: 

Remote Community Journalism Training – Over the life of the project (one year) two expert journalism trainers, hired by JHR and Wawatay, will work in six remote Aboriginal communities in northern Ontario, training 30 local journalists in print and radio reporting as well as Rights Media. Over the course of the year the trainers will live and work in three communities each, for a duration of three months in each community, training an average of 5 journalists per three-month cycle, but also engaging up to 50 community members per cycle – up to 300 in total-  through community forums. JHR has already secured relationships with six communities who have existing radio facilities, and a group of individuals who have already demonstrated interest in pursuing careers in media.

Wawatay has set aside a budget to pay for and distribute the news content produced by trainees, including radio broadcasts and print articles. Trainees will also be provided an opportunity to pitch their work to other news outlets through JHR connections. These opportunities to freelance for Wawatay and other mainstream news outlets will provide the trainee journalists with real experience, economic incentives and the necessary contacts and sources of private sector financing to continue this work once funding for the project is over and the trainer has left.  This will ultimately lead to a wider understanding of Aboriginal communities and issues in Ontario and lead to job creation.

Thunder Bay Workshops 
–Over the course of the year JHR will host a bi-weekly workshops series in Thunder Bay. The series will run for 9 months, for a total of 17 workshops, targeting 30 attendees at each workshop. Topics of discussion, set in advance, would range from appropriate techniques for reporting in Aboriginal communities, to how mainstream newsrooms operate. The goal is to build journalism skills amongst both the Aboriginal and mainstream population to tell Aboriginal stories effectively, while enhancing an atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation. 

These workshops will also provide opportunities for mainstream journalists to network with the Aboriginal population in Thunder Bay. The Aboriginal population will learn how to work with mainstream media effectively to tell their stories and get their voices heard, and non-Aboriginal journalists will learn how to effectively work with Aboriginal communities. This is designed to decrease tension between the two groups, building more understanding across the cultural divide while contributing to the development of a network of journalists that will last beyond JHR’s presence.  

For more detailed information contact Robin Pierro at