My journey to the north

Last week, I stood on the vehicle deck of a ferry, gazing over the grey-blue waters of Tsawwassen, thinking about the long drive ahead of me to Burns Lake, to work as writer and editor for the Lakes District News and Houston Today.

Cut to the next scene: I’m stuck in the rain with a busted windshield wiper, driver’s side. And it’s raining in Vancouver. It’s a reminder of the contingency of our day-to-day lives: a lot can turn on the (broken) rod of a windshield wiper’s “linkage assembly.”

About me: For the past several years I’ve lived and worked in Montreal as a freelance writer and editor. Most of the time I worked as a fact-checker for The Canadian Encyclopedia. I also wrote for a little-known UN agency, the Universal Postal Union, which deals entirely with the global postal sector. Recently, I also started writing for the website of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

But my heart has always been in community journalism. I got my start with CKUT, the radio station at McGill University. I focused my writing and radio work on social justice issues like immigrant labour, and launched a podcast called Migrant Voices with a grassroots organization fighting for the rights of workers, Montreal’s Immigrant Workers’ Centre.

I decided to commit myself to journalism because I believe we need people at the front lines documenting events, and through a critical lens — reporting about issues that matter to a community, from the grassroots.

I want to acknowledge that I’ll be reporting from unceded Indigenous land, and that there is a long history of settlers like me writing about Indigenous peoples in ways that create distortions or misrepresentations. Anne Helen Petersen, Buzzfeed’s senior culture writer and western correspondent, approached this topic in a recent TinyLetter, arguing for white writers to understand the legacy of colonialism and their place in it — and for the empowerment of more Indigenous journalists.

There is clearly a lot of work towards repair and healing to be done, by people from all walks of life. I think journalism has an important role to play and I sincerely hope to contribute in the communities of Burns Lake and Houston.

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