King’s introduces Indigenous Peoples and Media as a pillar of its strategy to offer journalism education for the 21st century

King's introduces Indigenous Peoples and Media as a pillar of its strategy to offer journalism education for the 21st century

New course requirement for journalism grads accelerates King’s work on TRC Call to Action 86

The University of King’s College School of Journalism, Writing & Publishing has launched Indigenous Peoples and Media, a new, required course created in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Call to Action 86.

Published as one of the 94 Calls to Action laid out by the Commission in 2015, no. 86 states:

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.

Offered for the first time this winter and taught by Assistant Professor Trina Roache, a member of Glooscap First Nation in Nova Scotia, the course includes lectures delivered by Roache and guests from around the region. Students have been learning how media play a vital role in shaping public understanding of Indigenous cultures and communities, treaty relationships and reconciliation.

Roache says the course is intended to help students “think critically” about the role media play in representing Indigenous Peoples.

“Hopefully it provides a strong foundation for a new generation of young journalists to head out into Mi’kma’ki and beyond, and add to the narrative in a meaningful way.”

Director of Journalism Fred Vallance-Jones says the course was one of his key priorities on taking up the journalism directorship. “What really struck me about that [TRC] recommendation is that it said ‘all students’… My absolute number one priority coming into [the directorship] was to get this done.”

The course builds on existing initiatives in the university to address CTA 86 and decolonize the journalism programs: Roache delivers several lectures relating to Indigenous Peoples as part of the first-year Foundations of Journalism course; and since 2019 the elective Reporting in Mi’kma’ki has introduced a small group of students each year to Mi’kmaw culture while teaching them what it means to report Indigenous stories responsibly.

With the course now required for all second-year students pursuing a single honours degree in journalism, it will expand to become a requirement for a combined honours in journalism from fall of 2024. Going forward, all King’s journalism graduates will possess “a solid introduction to these critical subjects,” says Vallance-Jones. Although Indigenous Peoples in Media is not the first journalism course King’s has offered to incorporate the perspective of Indigenous Peoples, he says its integration into the degree requirements represents a significant step forward, and a key part of the journalism programs’ strategy to “meaningfully moving forward with what it means to offer a journalism education in the 21st century.”

Banner photo of Alan Syliboy drum in Indigenous Students Centre by Trina Roache

Page Break