Carol Morin is the Host of Northbeat. Part Cree, part Chipewyan, Morin grew up in Sedley, Saskatchewan. A native adoptee, she was one of the sixties scoop babies, taken from her family and home community of Sandy Bay in northern Saksatchewan.
Morin says it was through her job that she met a man who passed on to her a yearning to learn about her heritage and a love for aboriginal culture. Being adopted and aboriginal as a youngster, she only ever came across the stereotypical native on the streets of Calgary.
“I was also the only aboriginal kid around. I didn’t even see any aboriginal people until I was 17 and my mom took us shopping in Regina and that was when I saw my first aboriginal people. “Thankfully because of my job, I met Allen Sap, he was the first really positive aboriginal person in my life. I did a story on him when they opened up the Allen Sap gallery, and basically he said three words that guided me, ‘you should learn’. He was my first influence that way. Since then I have gone back. I have met my family who all grew up in the community. I have also been adopted by a couple of elders just outside of Calgary, and I will continue to learn.”
Morin sees her role as an important one, one that she doesn’t take lightly.
“I love having my career as a journalist, it has given me so much more purpose. Knowing that it is important in mainstream media to make sure that certain things aren’t said or done about aboriginal people, because stuff happens and it drives me crazy. One small example is Residential School abuse. There are some white reporters today who will still say the ‘alleged abuse’. That stuff happened though! Don’t minimize it! That stuff happened and caused irreparable damage for certain people and certain families and communities. How dare you minimize it and call it alleged! And then other things like if someone writes something in a script (to be read on the air) like ’Cree Indian’. No, we’re not Cree Indians, we’re Crees, or we’re Ojibwa or whatever. So, if nothing else I’ll be there to be the terminology cop in mainstream media.”
Morin is the first aboriginal person ever to anchor the mainstream news in Canada. “When I started out in media in 1983, when I first went on the air, I was 19. It was a CTV affiliate and there was no such thing as ‘employment equity’ at that time. My boss just looked at me, and said that he liked my enthusiasm. He said “she’s got some basic talent and she’s got some background and some education so we’re going to take a chance on her and hire her as a weekend news anchor”. This was without any TV experience at all. So that is how I started out in television, and I was the first aboriginal person on TV in Canada in mainstream media. But it kind of makes me sad because I’m going into my 24th year involved in media, and I can still count, probably on one hand, the number of aboriginal people in mainstream media on television. There is hardly anybody and it drives me nuts. People ask me “how come there are not more aboriginal people involved in mainstream media?” And the truth is that there is a tremendous amount of racism in mainstream media, especially towards aboriginal people. There is still that sensibility that “‘well the only reason you got the job is because you’re an Indian. You have no talent and no higher education, therefore you have no right to be here. The only reason you are here is to fill some sort of employment equity thing”. Then you are shunted to the side and treated badly. I know people won’t want to acknowledge that it happens, but it does still happen to this day.”
She is currently trying to get more aboriginal perspectives into mainstream media. “I think it’s going to be happening pretty soon on the CBC network. I’ve been trying to convince certain people that we need this. There needs to be a unit that tells the stories of aboriginal Canadians. Special attention does need to paid to our concerns and to the way we are portrayed in Canada, because enough is enough. We’ll see what happens though. If nothing else, I’ll bring it up and continue to bring it up.”
Having grown up outside the community, she knows what the mainstream society is really like. It has not been all roses with other aboriginal people and other people in general she has met concerning their attitudes towards aboriginal people. “One thing that bothers me, I find this sometimes in the media and especially with someone like me, who has been adopted out, or someone who grew up outside of the (aboriginal) culture, is that people somehow thinking they’re better than the people in the communities because they have a degree or because they have a vocabulary that is different. It drives me crazy when I meet aboriginal people who think they are better than those people who live in the communities. One thing that I will always hold dear are those people who hold the traditional knowledge and who still have the language and the stories and who know how to live off the land -they’re beautiful and so necessary in terms of keeping the culture strong. We (as journalists, reporters and news anchors) can do what we do in media and that’s fine and it is important because we’re letting other Canadians know who we are. But I also think it is so important to hold on to that other basic part of who we are. Right now I’m learning the Chipewyan language because that is what they speak up here and it’s also part of my heritage. If I ever move back to Alberta or to a place where they speak Cree, then I will learn how to speak Cree. I’m learning because I want to teach my children, because the culture is not stopping with me. It drives me crazy that I am supposed to be assimilated, well I’m not and neither are my children. They are going to have the best of a lot of things, but they are also going to be intensely proud of who they are for their entire lives, and not just learn about it in their 20’s.”
Morin still has a great fondness for her work. “I’m busy but that’s ok. I really enjoy it. In fact I love it, I always have. I’m so lucky after all this time to still be able to say that. There are so many things to do, I don’t know how anyone could get bored doing this job. Not the anchoring part, but just media as a whole. There are so many other opportunities to be storyteller, or to be producing some programming or doing community work, or whatever… What drew me to this initially and what keeps me here, is the whole idea of learning all the time. Right now I’m working on a one hour special to tell the history of the RCMP here in the NWT because the ‘G’ division is celebrating their 100th anniversary. I’m helping out with producing it. I’m doing so much reading about the history of it all and it’s fascinating some of the things that you find out. You meet people who are fascinating and beautiful and they give you a gift just by meeting them. And that’s what I get a kick out of.”
Morin is multi talented, being an accomplished drummer with a women’s drum group out of Winnipeg that was nominated for a Prairie Music Award. She also does painting, makes masks, sings, does pow wow dancing, writes poetry and designs clothing, which she sometimes wears on the air. “Sometimes work and life is just stressful and these creative things are ways for me to work stuff out.”
To all the youth out there, with dreams and goals of your own, she says, “You are so smart, and you are beautiful and you are so capable and you could do anything. So don’t ever, ever, let anyone tell you anything different. Because they’re going to try, but don’t believe them. It’s true. I’ve been told myself that ‘you can’t do this because whatever” and well, you know what? I can, I can do anything and so can you.”