Photo: Instructor Kerry Benjoe, managing editor of Eagle Feather News, works with student Dallas Monpetit at the 2022 INCA Summer Institute

First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) has launched the first four-year Indigenous journalism and communication degree in North America.

A four-year Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Journalism and Communication Arts blends multimedia training with the study of Indigenous issues and languages.

“The degree is unique and long overdue,” said Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, FNUniv president. “We need Indigenous voices and perspectives to tell our stories accurately and respectfully.”

Ottmann also announced extra funding to support the program, including $121,000 annually for five years from the Mastercard Foundation, $100,000 annually from the Inspirit Foundation over three years, and an anticipated $10,000 in internship support during the program’s inaugural year from J-Schools Canada/Écoles-J Canada and the Google News Initiative. 

Opportunities for the graduates of INCA programs are many and varied, according to Shannon Avison, associate professor of Indigenous Communication Arts (INCA). “The demand for Indigenous journalists and communication professionals has never been greater,” she said. “We get calls every day from organizations seeking interns and graduates.” 

A market study conducted by INCA found 80 per cent of media managers plan to increase Indigenous-focused hiring in the next five years. “Having a degree will equip students with the academic credentials and the core competencies needed for these careers,” said Avison. 

FNUniv student Brittany Poitras has been taking INCA courses as electives in her Indigenous Studies degree. “Students will really flourish being able to take their whole degree through First Nations University. It’s such a supportive learning environment grounded in Indigenous values,” she said.  

Hannah Scott, a third-year Faculty of Arts student at the University of Regina, said she’s happy to finally be able to declare Indigenous Journalism and Communication Arts as her degree major, after taking several INCA classes over the past two years.

“All students can benefit from Indigenous-focused learning,” she said. “Reconciliation is a team effort. At INCA, everyone is really kind and excited to work with one another no matter their background.”  

INCA has offered a two-year diploma program for almost 40 years, and recently added a one-year certificate focused on community radio and community relations. 

The time is right to expand our offerings with a full four-year Bachelor of Arts, said Avison. “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls on us to ensure that Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists have a strong foundation in Indigenous issues in Canada. First Nations University is the right post-secondary institution to do that,” she said. 

A launch event will be broadcast live on CFNU The Stream at starting at 10 a.m. Saskatchewan time this morning. Registration is now open and information about the degree is posted at