From the UBC Graduate School of Journalism: Reporting in Indigenous Communities, the only journalism course in Canada to focus exclusively on Aboriginal news stories.

Under the guidance of award-winning CBC-TV journalist Duncan McCue, 15 students produced health reports on Indigenous communities across the Lower Mainland.

Our community partners include the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation, Sto:lo Tribal Council and the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council.

Our mainstream media partner is CBC Vancouver. Our stories will be the centrepiece of a week-long series on Indigenous health starting April 23, 2012 on CBC Radio One’s the Early Edition, On the Coast, Daybreak North and On the Island. Our stories will also be featured in a one-hour documentary on the national CBC Radio program, The Story From Here, on June 20, 2012.


The RIIC reporters and professor Duncan McCue (top-left).

Reporters: Kate Adach, Krystle Alarcon, Sadiya Ansari, Chelsea Blazer, Natalie Dobbin, Malin Dunfors, Lisa Hale, Tyler Harbottle, Farida Hussain, Meg Mittelstedt, Lucas Powers, Jacqueline Ronson, Keith Rozendal, Lindsay Sample, Kendall Walters.

Copy Editor: Kate Adach

Radio Producer: Kathryn Gretsinger

Web Design/Web Editor/Teaching Assistant: Chantelle Bellrichard

Senior Editor/Professor: Duncan McCue


The logo for our Reporting in Indigenous Communities website is a Coast Salish-inspired design, in recognition that the University of British Columbia is located on the traditional territory of the Musqueam First Nation and to acknowledge the Coast Salish heritage of the First Nations we cover in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

The camera lens in the middle signifies our role as Journalists and Witnesses, and symbolizes a circle that, in many Aboriginal cultures, represents interconnectedness.

Attached to the lens, the logo has crescents and trigons — key design elements of Salish art. Salish artists often combine these symbols to represent a feather.

Our logo has four crescents which symbolize the Four Directions, in recognition that Indigenous people from many different Nations now call Vancouver and the Lower Mainland home. Likewise, our students at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism come from across Canada and around the world.

Lenkyn Ostapovich, of UBC Arts’ Instructional Support and Information Technology, designed our logo.


Shxw’éyelh is a Halkomelem word which means “to be healthy.” Literally, it translates to “good breath from an inside place.” Shxw’éyelh captures the spirit of our stories on Aboriginal health and healing.

While we were eager to find a word from an Aboriginal language for our title, it’s a challenge in a place such as the Lower Mainland, where Coast Salish peoples traditionally speak several distinct languages (not to mention all the languages spoken by urban Aboriginal residents, such as Carrier, Kwak’wala, Anishinaabe, Cree and many others).

Why did we settle on “shxw’éyelh”? Downriver and Upriver dialects of Halkomelem share the “same” word. To be more precise, Halkomelem is an Anglicization for the language. Upriver dialect is more properly called Halq’eméylem (spoken in over two dozen communities from Aitchelitz to Yale), Downriver dialect is more properly called Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (spoken in six communities including Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Tsawwassen).

Shxw’éyelh is the Halq’eméylem spelling. The Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ version is spelled and pronounced slightly differently — šxʷʔəýəɬ

The Sḵwxwú7mesh language has no equivalent word for “shxw’éyelh” or “to be healthy” but it was suggested to us that an appropriate word might be “iỷím” which means “to be strong.” We intend no disrespect to the Squamish Nation for choosing a Halq’eméylem and Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ word for our title — it just turned out to be the word common to the largest number of communities.

Thank you… haychka siem… kw’as hoy… chen kwen mantumi… meegwich… to all those who shared their advice and expertise in Aboriginal languages, including Dr. Patricia Shaw, Jason Woolman, Carleen Thomas, Deborah Jacobs, Vanessa Campbell and firstvoices.com.


For additional information, check out Duncan’s online guide to Reporting in Indigenous Communities, a place where journalists and journalism students can learn useful ideas and practical methods for finding and developing news stories in Indigenous communities.


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