Finding Inspiration: Genesee Keevil

We’re only two weeks into this adventure and I’ve already encountered a handful of people that have shaken up my worldview and led me to question my future plans. Interestingly, the person I identify as the most formative I’ve met so far is someone I know relatively little about. This person is Genesee Keevil. Hearing her speak at the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) panel on the second night of our course essentially reinvigorated my passion for journalism. I saw a whip-smart, articulate female journalist formulate passionate responses to tough questions about reporting in the North on Indigenous issues — a fascinating and undoubtedly challenging specialty. While I didn’t get a chance to speak with her after the panel, I did some research into her work. She produces incredible journalism and tells stories that so few others seem willing or able to find.

In hearing Genesee speak about the work she does in the North, I was touched, above all, by her sense of righteousness. She seems to sincerely believe that Indigenous stories are among the most important out there and that when something is broken — as so much is in Northern communities as a result of intergenerational trauma — it is a journalist’s job to bring public attention to injustice, even when everyone else seems determined to turn a blind eye. Her stories about Attawapiskat and the investigation into the death of Angel Carlick were two examples of her ability to combine dogged journalistic skill with genuine compassion for the sources of her story. She also articulated that when a story ends, your relationship with a source doesn’t necessarily have to. To produce truly important work, you need to immerse yourself in the lives of other people. To feel as if you have a duty of care to sources even after their story has been published is not something to reject. In fact, this is often how you form a network and find new leads in a community. This is advice I hope to always remember going forwards in my own career.

As I’ve dug deeper into Yukon life, I’ve seen firsthand the abundance of stories waiting to be told about this part of the country and the people who inhabit it. Having met someone who tells these stories exceptionally well, I’ve learned that a similar career path is possible to pursue. For so long I discouraged my journalistic ambitions, fearing the jobs were too few or the important stories too far from my sphere of influence. But as Genesee’s situation shows, a young female reporter with enough determination and willingness to learn can make it. At least I’m starting to think so. And this part of the country is the perfect place to do that. Most interactions I have with Yukoners leave me with at least one story idea. There’s something about this community that makes it easier to talk to people. Everyone is doing something worth asking about, and they all seem willing to share. Or maybe I’m getting braver. Inspiration is everywhere I look — Genesee being one of many sources.

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