Mobile solution, developed by Accenture Interactive’s Fjord design group, helps create new job opportunities in Canada’s remote communities
Dibaajimo, derived from the Ojibwe and Cree word “dibaajimowin” – meaning a story or a narrative – is an innovative platform that provides indigenous Canadians with journalism training, connections and resources. The core of the platform is a 22-module training course that provides a foundation in journalism basics. Participants can also use the site to make story pitches to editors and access additional resources and story archives. The site is updated continually, with a renewed curriculum slated for release this spring.
“We are thrilled to launch a digital resource of such quality and utility,” said Rachel Pulfer, JHR’s executive director. “Working with the Fjord/Accenture team has been both inspiring and enormously productive. The resulting training platform is explicitly designed to help us equip a cohort of new indigenous journalists with the skills they need to succeed and put them on a pathway of opportunity from remote reserves to jobs in the media industry.”
JHR’s media studies have shown that reporting on indigenous peoples in the Canadian media is often inaccurate, negative in tone, and rarely written by journalists who are indigenous. “Now we have a powerful tool to help us realize our goal to train 100 indigenous people each year with the skills to become professional journalists and drive media-literacy programs in these remote communities,” Pulfer said.
The online distance-learning platform is an integral component of the community media training offered through JHR’s larger Indigenous Reporters Program, which strives to increase the quality and quantity of indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media. JHR trainers use the Dibaajimo platform as they work with remote First Nations communities in Ontario to provide skills training and mentorship to community members who want to pursue careers in journalism, as well as to promote civic engagement through media-literacy training to the communities as a whole.
“We redesigned Dibaajimo to give budding journalists in Canada’s remote communities a central knowledge-sharing system and enhanced journalism training, even when connectivity isn’t optimal,” said Scott Weisbrod, group service design director and studio head at Fjord.
Trainers, trainees and aspiring indigenous journalists can access the platform on their mobile devices and quickly download learning modules when they have Wi-Fi access for offline use later.
“The re-launch of a new, fully mobile resource for aspiring indigenous journalists across Canada, which evolved from a web-based tool piloted in Northern Ontario in 2013, is an example of how Accenture’s Skills to Succeed initiative is taking demand-led skilling programs to scale with technology and digital solutions,” said Deb Swartz, Corporate Citizenship program lead at Accenture in Canada. “Globally, we are optimizing our use of technology to accelerate the reach of our Skills to Succeed partners with jobseekers and entrepreneurs cost effectively and, in turn, improve employment and entrepreneurship outcomes.”
To date, JHR has worked with 13 First Nations communities in Ontario, including communities where trainers are currently placed: Lac Seul First Nation, Kasabonika Lake First Nation, North Spirit Lake First Nation and Eabametoong First Nation. Beyond the community-based media training, the Indigenous Reporters Program invests in and builds the professional skills of indigenous Canadian reporters by providing scholarships to journalism students and coordinating paid internships for emerging reporters. In the last two years JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program has placed 19 indigenous media interns with mainstream media outlets, and 10 of those interns have since been hired [full-time]. The program also offers professional development workshops for newsrooms and journalism programs across Canada on how to report more effectively on indigenous communities, which includes providing historical and cultural context, as well as best practices, when reporting.