A local filmmaker and his cousin in the communications field are paving the way for other young indigenous youth at Mount Royal University(MRU).
Trevor Solway and Kelsey No Runner (Solway) both alumni of MRU have created a scholarship for young Blackfoot students to help ease the burden of taking part in film and communications programs, which can sometimes be costly for students who must purchase expensive items like camera gear, flash and memory cards.
Called the Emerging Blackfoot Communicators Fund, individuals can make donations to the fund, which will supply students in the Journalism and Digital Media Program with equipment.
The fund is open to students from the Blackfoot Confederacy, including Siksika, Piikani, Kainai and Amskapi Piikani who are enrolled in Journalism and Digital Media.
Solway spoke about what it was like when he and his cousin were attending school
“We are both graduates and she works more in the communications and journalism world now. I pursued film, but we both noticed that there's a lack of the Indigenous content creators across the board that are in journalism or PR, or filmmaking,” he said.
“To go to school and to get the accreditation for these positions and jobs is really expensive and really tough, so we decided to start the Blackfoot Emerging Communicators Fund.”
Solway continued, “It's an expensive cost to do this work, and it's one of the barriers we want to take down. For me personally, I could have been one of those kids from the res who fell through the cracks.”
“When I was in MRU, I was very broke and didn't have a lot of money and so I relied on my cousin a lot. We shared equipment throughout the first couple years. I went up to her dorm and I borrowed her camera or even things like SD cards and I’d go quickly do an assignment, run back, and return it to her,” he said.
The fund is offering students kits which are valued at about $2,000 each. They are hoping to raise about $10,000 for the fund. Solway and his cousin have used their own money to put together the first kit.
“There's a lot of talent out there and a lot of Indigenous youth who want to tell stories for a living, and we're definitely not lacking in talent and stories. We're just lacking an opportunity,” he said.
The scholarship created through the MRU Foundation is the first of its kind at the school.
“I think it'll encourage more students not only to take this program, but also to graduate and pursue a career afterward. There's a need for Indigenous content creators because we need to have authentic storytelling and accurate storytelling and accurate reporting when it comes to reporting on Indigenous matters,” he explained.
He also noted that there should be a more diverse number of voices in terms of covering all aspects of the news cycle.
“I think Indigenous people have a lot to offer to journalism, film, and to the world,” he said.
“As Indigenous people community is such an important thing and for me personally I wouldn't have graduated from Mount Royal and done the things I've done after my education into my career if it wasn’t for someone like Kelsey or some of the other mentors that I had growing up who supported me at the right time when I needed it,” said Solway.
“That's what we want to do with the scholarship. To offer that support and offer that help when these students need it the most,” he said.
A link to the Emerging Blackfoot Communicators Fund can be found here https://foundation.mru.ca/emerging-blackfoot-communicators-fund