New podcast from three Indigenous students tackles myths of COVID-19, explores current events and shares information about friendship centers – according to host Sherwin Strong.
Launched in June, the In Friendship podcast is produced by Strong, Kaleb Gambler and Ally Reber as part of the Wachiay Aboriginal Multimedia (WaMM) program at the Wachiay Friendship Center in Courtenay, British Columbia.
“Podcasts are one of the most popular platforms,” says Strong, who hosts the first two segments of the podcast.
Strong is Carrier and Nuu-chah-nulth, and he says that when he first joined the group in June, he was on a path to explore his own Indigenous identity.
Through podcasts, “we can connect with events or just monumental ideas about Indigenous life and well-being and their history,” he says.
“It was the main objective that attracted me.”
Thanks to the podcast, these young people say they are learning new skills and having a good time in the process.
” We learned [how] to connect with so many different variations of life in the medical field, ”says Strong.
He says he is also learning about “the resilience and ability of indigenous peoples to be right there for each other.”
Gambler hosts the third segment of In Friendship. He is Cree / Métis from the plains of Alberta.
As a “junior reporter” he says he saw the podcast as a “real opportunity… to go out into the field and learn some of the skills… like being able to talk to people. [and] have a formal interview.
Reber, the third member of the team, works on the production side.
“I really enjoy working with these two and having my voice heard,” she says. “And focusing on the good news has really helped improve my own mental health.”
Reber is Kwaquitl from Alert Bay, and she says she has experience in videography, photography and audio production.
Before joining the group, she says she was doing production work in Victoria, BC, and it helped her realize that she had a knack for storytelling.
“We [get to] making good news across Canada on COVID-19, ”says Reber,“ It’s really fun!
The trio have just released their fourth episode, “Staying Safe”. In it, Gambler discusses new restrictions and mandates that will be implemented in the coming weeks for British Columbians. He is also asking Canadian doctor Noni MacDonald about COVID-19 awareness and safety concerns.
“I sit on the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization for the World Health Organization and these are the 15 people who advise WHO on the best way to use vaccines,” MacDonald said in his interview.
“I think it’s extremely important to get the right COVID message out if we’re really going to make a difference,” she says. “Having a local friendship center like yours speak up and showcase this topic is extremely important. “
The National Association of Friendship Centers is one of the sponsors of the WaMM program, according to Strong.
“They contacted us to formulate the idea of a show. They came up with the title itself, In Friendship, with this perception of encompassing all walks of life, different ages, different backgrounds, different journeys.
To make sure the interviews go smoothly, the group follows their own protocol and receives guidance from their mentor, Rob Croston, WAMM Program Director at the Friendship Center.
“We sit down and talk about it… how are we going to approach this… who we want to interview, so we make sure we feel comfortable with our decisions as a team,” says Gambler.
“Rob has [been a] a great help for us. He is competent in this area. We wouldn’t be here without him.
Croston is one of the co-founders of the WaMM program. He says he has been teaching young people how to create multimedia using professional equipment for six years.
“The three children on the internship podcast are wonderful. They run the show themselves, about 12 hours a week. I’m used as a foil – it’s a student-led project, ”says Croston.
“It’s spectacularly positive and a wonderful situation for learning, and it’s perfect for confidence and some personal satisfaction in new skills learned and everything in between. It’s kind of a very positive push.
The group says their long-term goal is for their podcast to become an independent platform and that they hope to inspire other indigenous youth to join the WaMM program.
“We hope to get other kids to come and try podcasting with us and show them the way,” says Gambler.
Athena Bonneau, Journalist Local Journalism Initiative, Le Discours