Students welcome prominent Indigenous journalist to Rotary Global Classroom

With the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation approaching on September 30, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) reporter Priscilla Wolf joined Durham College (DC) students for a discussion about Indigenous issues. 

Appearing virtually in The Rotary Global Classroom on September 26, Wolf fielded questions from the assembled students and shared stories from her life and career as an Indigenous woman who is committed to representing her community.

“I love working at APTN because we get to tell our stories from our point of view. Indigenous stories,” she said. With the benefit of her lived experience and knowledge of her culture, she tells those stories with empathy and integrity. While stressing that journalists of all backgrounds can and should cover Indigenous issues, she acknowledged that being a member of the community makes her work that much more personal.

First recognized in 2021, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation brings those issues to the forefront, particularly the history of residential schools. While those harsh truths must be acknowledged, Wolf sees the growing recognition as a positive step towards reconciliation.

“I think it’s important, because it shows how we’ve changed and how we’ve improved. It’s not just about how badly Indigenous people were treated. It’s also showing how the relationship has evolved with the Canadian government, and how Indigenous people have thrived and are still thriving today.”

Journalism professor Joanne MacDonald was pleased to see her students make the most of a unique opportunity to hear from someone as experienced and accomplished as Wolf.

“Hearing from frontline journalists in Canada is a pretty amazing experience. Students asked great questions, they listened and I think they learned a lot,” she said. “Diversity makes for better journalism.”

The event was part of the Voices in Journalism series. Every year, first-year Journalism students work with Durham Region’s CityStudio to produce a handful of events where speakers from across Canada and beyond share their wisdom and experience in panels on equity, diversity and inclusion in journalism.

It’s an invaluable opportunity for future journalists like Ganga Rajesh, who helped to moderate the event, and Gage Patte, who took a leading role in it.

“It’s important to learn from someone who’s had so much experience in the field. We’re going into the news industry, so we have to consider all these different perspectives and these different experiences that people we’re going to be working with have been through,” said Patte.  

As an international student who is just beginning to learn about the complicated history of Indigenous people in Canada, Rajesh was grateful for the chance to benefit from Wolf’s firsthand experience.

That sentiment was shared by their classmate, Simran Deb.

“I think that as journalists, it’s really important to listen to Indigenous voices,” she said.