Building Effective Communicators: Indian Communication Arts is Very Diverse

Jen Dubois

Jen Dubois
Jen Dubois

Not knowing what to expect, Jen Dubois took the Indian Communication Arts (INCA) summer institute and learned about all the opportunities that communications had to offer.

“The institute was fun and exciting, and really showed me how many different things are out there from television, radio, newspaper, internet and more,” says Dubois.

Dubois started out freelancing around Saskatchewan for MBC radio and Eagle Feather News. She continued to work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), and is currently in External Relations at the University of Regina.

Although Dubois is not working in communications currently, her education with INCA opened doors for her to walk through.

“It’s given me the foundation and the proper language when working in a communications department. There’s so many different options that I could choose as a career path because of my experience and education from INCA,” says Dubois. “It also ties me to my First Nations roots and keeps me grounded.”

Dubois may be currently transitioning from communications, but continues to use the tools and skills that she picked up from INCA. Whichever direction her career path takes her, Dubois finds her knowledge useful in every job.

“It has provided me the basics that I feel everyone should have especially in business,” says Dubois.

Priscilla Wolf

priscilla wolf-communications storyPriscilla Wolf walked into the Indian Communication Arts (INCA) program knowing about the field, but was unsure of what she wanted to do within it. She started in communications at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) as a senior producer.

Working with the First Nations Veterans Memorial Tipi Committee and with the veterans, Wolf learned important skills such as: building rapport, to be mindful of cultural (First Nations) protocols, learning to actively listen, and practice focusing techniques while interviewing.

Wolf has worked with many different organizations, she explains, “I’ve worked for the federal government in such Communications areas such as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (now AANDC) as a Governance Clerk in Lands Trust. I’ve worked for CBC News as an editorial assistant and freelance report for Radio One. I’ve also worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a Human Resources/ Communications intern for both the AgroForestry Division and Regional Headquarters.”

Since, 2012, Wolf has been employed with Saskatchewan Telecommunications (Sasktel) in both the Provincial Operations and Corporate Communications. She started through the Gradworks Program as a manager, and was permanently hired as a Community Relations Specialist in the Community Investment Program in the Corporate Communications department in the Head Office of Sasktel.

Within INCA, Priscilla Wolf also learned how to do interviews, build and maintain business relationships, build rapport, practice effective communications skills, and exercise time management from taking the INCA Summer Institute.

“The Summer Institute I participated in 2007 was an extremely awesome and extremely important work and life experience for six weeks. The networking and work ethics that were provided in training were immeasurable to building my own perspective and professional well-being,” says Wolf.

Tracy Stevens

Tracy Stevens knew there were many employment opportunities in communications and public relations so she joined the Indian Communication Arts (INCA) program.  At first she thought she may want to be an investigative reporter. But soon, she found herself very busy in communications.

“I worked for the ACTRA Media Guild. Before that I was a literary researcher for a prominent author of two non-fiction books (Maggie Siggins),” says Stevens.  “One book was awarded the Governor General Award for Non-Fiction (Revenge of the Land) and later developed into a television mini-series. The other received critical acclaim for its comprehensive research. I am very proud of this work (Riel: A Life of Revolution).”

Having connections with the INCA alumni who was returning to the U of R-J School, Stevens got the opportunity to take on a term position with a federal government department. Meeting the qualifications for the position, it eventually became a permanent position and Stevens was appointed to it.

Stevens has been in the same department for nearly 20 years.

“I began as a Communications Officer with the federal government. Changing governments means changing priorities. My communications job was eliminated and I had to adapt to a few jobs over a few years within the same department,” she explains.

Going from writing magazine articles, news releases and speeches, Stevens now writes departmental responses for ministerial correspondence and provides support for briefing materials to senior regional and ministerial officials.

“I continue to write and communicate for a living. Communicating well is important in every job,” says Stevens.

by Morgan Esperance