In our virtual newsroom at IndigiNews, there is a lot of excitement as Emilee Gilpin joins our team as managing editor.
Gilpin has spent her career as a journalist working to de-colonize and Indigenize the media. She calls herself a Michif nomad and is of Cree-Métis, Filipina, Scottish and Irish descent. As a mixed person, Gilpin says she walks between many worlds, shape-shifts, code-switches and understands the truth of nuance and what she calls “the space in-between,” which has led her exactly to this field of work and this kind of position.
“What doesn’t excite me about joining this team?” she says.
“I’ve been advocating for more Indigenous representation in media, anti-oppression training for journalists and more accurate coverage of Indigenous Peoples, cultures and communities since I entered the world of journalism.”
“And now here I am, four years later, joining a team of badass journalists, majority women or non-binary, many moms, all reporters of mixed Indigeneity, and ALL with a fire in their hearts to change the media landscape in a meaningful way.”
We sat down with Emilee to talk more about her new role. Here’s what she has to say:
How do you see Indigenous-led media amplifying Indigenous voices?
Emilee Gilpin: I see Indigenous-led media going out and getting the stories mainstream media ignores or often misrepresents. Journalism in the western world claims to seek and share the unaltered truth, but truth is not black and white, and too often journalists report inaccurate information due to a lack of understanding, connection to communities or an ethic of accountability.
Indigenous-led media won’t be so careless, as a majority Indigenous team leading this new wave are aware of how easy it is to get it wrong and what’s at risk, especially in a country still wrought with racial tensions, violence against Indigenous women and a morality complex. Indigenous-led media means relationship-based reporting, it means taking the time to tell the story right, it means being accountable, and it means making space for up and coming storytellers of the next generation.
Since I’ve been a part of the IndigiNews team, we’ve had conversations around culturally-appropriate practices, relationship-based reporting, telling the stories that matter, being accountable and accurate and telling stories in a good way. Everything about this is exciting.
You’re the managing editor, what does this role mean to you?
EG: I take this role very seriously. It means I get to help with the overall organization of our content. It means I am in touch with the whole team, and I’m there to listen and support. It means I can take everything I received as a reporter, and all that I didn’t, and try and be the change I advocate for in media organizations. It means we can collaborate and work with illustrators, animators, photographers, filmmakers and storytellers to be a part of this evolving media landscape. It means making sure our stories are accurate, that we are accountable to the people we hear from, and we are consistently sharing the stories that have been largely left out, ignored or misrepresented for generations.
Tell us a bit about the experiences on your journey that brought you here.
EG: First things first, I am the manifestation of my ancestor’s wildest dreams. My paternal grandmother Irene Chartrand had a stint as a radio DJ in Churchill, Manitoba, though she grew up in the Pas. Even in the 50s, she paved the way as a proud and kinda mischievous Métis woman who wasn’t afraid to speak up and have a laugh at the same time. My uncle Ted, one of the best trappers in the area in his prime, had a video camera glued to his hand, documenting our michif family and our place in that crisp northern land. I’ve inherited this desire to listen, witness and share, and I know my journey here today is much longer than I’ve been alive.
Formally speaking, I completed a graduate course in journalism at Concordia University in Montreal where I encountered more conservative and colonial thoughts and practices being passed down, I searched high and low for media organizations, educators, other reporters or journalists-in-training who were taking a decolonial, Indigenized or anti-oppressive approach in their work, and the results were slim. There are people who have been critically engaging with the media for much longer than I’ve even been alive, but I still wanted to be a part of the change and see those numbers grow.
I started giving workshops on decolonizing the media (basic anti-oppression methodologies and strong teachings of respect, reciprocity and accountability), and was awarded an internship with the Tyee, based in Vancouver, from Journalists for Human Rights. I worked with the Tyee team for a summer, and then was hired by Canada’s National Observer to lead their ‘First Nations Forward’ project, dedicated to stories of success and self-determination in communities across so-called B.C. which turned into a managing director position. It has been an honour to report on Indigenous-led solutions to climate change and to amplify stories of success and self-determination.
I started as an advisor to the IndigiNews project and proudly and humbly take on this new role.
IndigiNews is a new platform, what do you want people to know about the work that we do?
EG: I’ve never worked with an organization like this team. I’ve never had the kinds of thoughtful conversations we have, with every story idea, every series, every headline. We are all dedicated to being accurate and accountable, to sharing stories of diverse voices and doing it in a good way. We are mostly women or non-binary, many mothers, people who work other jobs and wear other hats, people who embody diverse cultures, teachings and experiences, and people committed to doing something entirely new.
What are you working on first?
EG: I’m still building relationships with the team. I’m working on listening, always. But I’m also jumping right into leading a November series dedicated to reproductive health – the hard and hidden stories of the traumas inflicted on especially Indigenous women in residential schools and hospitals, ongoing barriers to healthcare, as well as the many brilliant stories of resurgence and reclamation in the realm of birth, birthwork, motherhood, holistic health.
I’m also working on creating an IndigiNews newsletter.
How can people give involved and support you and the team?
EG: People can follow, like, subscribe, share stories, share their ideas, spread the word and keep in touch!
Anything else you want to share?
EG: Please feel free to reach out with story ideas — we are here to listen, witness, and share.
Gilpin’s role is made possible in part with the support from Inspirit Foundation. Their support of this work does not imply endorsement of or influence over work produced.