Building Platforms for Black Stories
Promoting inclusion in the media is a key challenge in a diverse society—but it is one that is welcomed by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. In 2021, it launched the Black Journalism Fellowship Program, a new initiative in partnership with CTV News and the CBC. BMO is a proud sponsor of the program, as it aligns perfectly with our Purpose-driven commitment to support an inclusive society with zero barriers.
“The program provides fellowships to aspiring journalists who are starting out on their careers,” notes Nada Ristich, Head of Community Giving at BMO. “And we’re enthusiastic about helping them. We fully embrace the Foundation’s aim of encouraging a diversity of voices in journalism, because diversity in the media is essential to widening everyone’s perspectives.”
Building a platform for other voices
One of the first three recipients of a fellowship is Concordia University journalism graduate Josie Fomé. As early as the age of nine, Josie knew she wanted to tell stories. “I wanted to be a journalist before I knew what journalism was,” she notes. “I loved seeing the way that journalists made connections with people. I developed a passion for interviewing from an early age, and I was confident that I had what it takes to draw out people’s stories.”
Josie is now turning her childhood dream into a reality through her fellowship. After being selected, she began a six-month internship with CTV, where she has an insider’s view of how the news is made. She has used the opportunity to provide a platform in the Black community. Her winning fellowship application was based on exploring questions around intergenerational homes within Black communities, especially during the Covid pandemic. She is especially interested in how the experiences in those homes differ from those of smaller households, and how young people are taking the lead in advocating for mental health in the Black community.
She has also developed her own podcast, which is now in its third season. Dedicated to the theme of education, she uses the podcast to highlight her belief that education is a lifelong process, by inviting a diverse array of guests to tell their stories of ongoing learning. The podcast embodies her belief that journalism is not about giving voice to others, but about sharing a platform that ensures all voices are heard.
A world of stories to tell
While Josie focuses on local stories and learns more about the nuts and bolts of journalism, she is nurturing a longer-term ambition that is global in scope. As a first-generation immigrant from Cameroon, she is passionate about bring African stories and cultures to the world. “Africa is what I know best,” she says. “I understand the diversity, the nuance, the subtleties about the African experience—and the journey of African immigrants like me and my parents. I don’t see that reflected in what we read and see in our media, though. And I want to change that.”
Her next step on that path is to begin work on a documentary in Uganda at some point in the next few years. It’s a country she is familiar with through time spent working there in media and a range of community projects, as part of a fellowship for students at Concordia. In the meantime, she will be pursuing other opportunities in the media after her internship, fulfilling the aim of the fellowship to cultivate future Black media leaders—and embodying BMO’s Purpose of breaking down barriers to inclusion.