Katrina Clarke, 2018 bursary winner, to report on Indigenous education in Canada and Australia

TORONTO (June 12, 2018) — Journalist Katrina Clarke will use the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary to investigate the failures and successes of Indigenous education across Atlantic Canada and abroad, providing an international context to Canada’s efforts at truth and reconciliation.

The Gordon Sinclair Foundation awarded the bursary today at its annual meeting, in Toronto. Clarke is a 30-year-old reporter based in Fredericton where she writes for The Daily Gleaner. A former Toronto Star reporter, Clarke has contributed to the CBC and National Post. She covers education and politics in New Brunswick specializing in stories on Indigenous issues, inequality and mental health.

Her Roving Reporter project stemmed from interviews with Indigenous youth who expressed pain for what Canada’s residential school system did to previous generations and confusion about how specific cultures fit into our education system today.

“Indigenous issues in Atlantic Canada remain underreported,” said Clarke. “As an education reporter, I see firsthand how the divide between culture and classroom negatively affects Indigenous youths’ mental health and academic development. I will investigate how governments are attempting to incorporate Indigenous culture into the classrooms, why students struggle when they leave home to attend school and what is lost when a flown-in outsider teaches in a remote community.”

2018 bursary winner Katrina Clarke
(Photo: Harriett Dedman)

As a Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter, Clarke will travel across Atlantic Canada and to Australia, where she will report on the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS), a public-private school for Indigenous youths from communities thousands of kilometres away.

The Roving Reporter Bursary was created in memory of Gordon Sinclair, who made his name reporting around the world for the Toronto Star in the 1930s. The bursary replaces a university scholarship for journalism students that has been given out annually since 1986 by the Gordon Sinclair Foundation, established by friends of the remarkable journalist, author, radio commentator and television personality who until his death in 1984, was one of Canada’s most enduring celebrities. He earned that celebrity during a career that included periods with the Toronto Star, CFRB radio and as a panelist on CBC’s long-running news quiz program Front Page Challenge.

Clarke is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Journalism program at Western University where she was named Best Broadcast Journalist in her program. She also has a BA in Political and Global Development Studies from Queen’s University. A seasoned reporter and successful freelancer, she has experience working abroad having previously won an IDRC International Development Journalism Award that took her to Thailand where she spent seven months writing for the Bangkok Post.

She has proven her ability to cover stories of local, national and global interest in a variety of beats and across multiple platforms. Through recent Freedom of Information requests, she exposed how teachers are secretly disciplined by New Brunswick school districts. As a Roving Reporter, she will mine for health data on suicide and depression rates among Indigenous youth, education statistics on Indigenous youth literacy, math and science scores vs. region-wide scores, and international reports on outcomes of education programs targeting Indigenous youth.

The legendary Gordon Sinclair

At a time when most news organizations have cut back on travel, the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary is meant to support a major research and reporting trip by an early career Canadian journalist who has within the past five years graduated from one of Canada’s university-level journalism programs. The purpose of the $15,000 bursary is to encourage a young journalist to get off the beaten track and to spend a considerable period – a minimum of six weeks – away on a reporting assignment.

In recent years, bursary winners have used the award to document stories anywhere from the Middle East to Northern Canada. Last year’s recipient, award-winning investigative reporter Annie Burns-Pieper travelled to Madagascar to report on US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule – which bans foreign aid to groups that perform or promote abortion – and how it has impacted global health programs, specifically family planning and women’s health services.

Applicants to the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary were invited to submit a proposal to travel abroad or to a region of Canada that is not usually well covered by the media and to research and then prepare a substantial body of journalistic work on an important issue.

Two of Sinclair’s former employers – the Toronto Star and the CBC – are associated with the bursary and have undertaken to provide mentorship by senior editors to the bursary winner as he prepares for his reporting trip and then to consider the work for publication or broadcast.

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For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Brett Popplewell
Executive Director
Gordon Sinclair Foundation

Katrina Clarke

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