Call for Indigenous writers and artists: the Indigenous-focussed issue

stolen sisters march indigenous
Photo from the Martlet’s coverage of the Stolen Sisters March in 2019, by Mike Graeme, Contributing Photographer

Thank you for your interest in our Indigenous-focussed issue! We have finalized our selection of writers. The issue will be coming out in two weeks — subscribe at martlet.ca/subscribe to get all the stories in your inbox.

The Native Students Union and the Martlet are planning a collaboration for early 2021, with funding from the City of Victoria’s Everyday Creative Grant. In order to have lots of time to develop stories, we are starting the pitch process now! Indigenous students and community members that do not have extensive writing experience are welcome to pitch their ideas.

Even if you only have a rough idea of a story, send it to us and we will help you develop it further. Try to include a topic, the angle at which you would like to approach the story, and an idea of who you would interview (again, we can help develop this further). There will be financial compensation ($150) for eight selected contributing writers! 

All pitches and pitch ideas can be sent to the Indigenous-focussed issue’s editor, Boston Laferté, at communications@uvicnsu.ca.

We are also seeking one Indigenous artist to design the cover for the Indigenous-focussed issue, with $200 in compensation available. All forms of art are welcome, including but not limited to photographs, paintings, and photographs of carvings or sculptures. If you think your art would be a good fit, please e-mail communications@uvicnsu.ca with your idea for the cover and, if available, some examples of previous work.

The deadline for pitches is Dec. 16. Full articles are expected to be submitted at the end of December. Ample support will be offered throughout the process, and include a brief training workshop. Any writer can request to meet with Boston Laferté and/or Martlet Editor-in-Chief Kate Korte at any point along the way. The Indigenous-focussed issue will be distributed throughout Victoria and on our campus in early January 2021. 

This project was heavily inspired by Briarpatch’s Land Back issue.

About the issue

The Indigenous-focussed issue is a first for the Martlet and the Native Students Union.

This project will highlight Indigenous news, stories, and artists from the W̱SÁNEĆ and Lək̓ʷəŋən people, and Indigenous peoples from other nations that are living and working on the lands we now call Victoria.

Selected writers are expected to spend time developing stories and relationships within a community to ensure proper representation of stories, or building off relationships they may already have. This may involve, for example, having informal chats before and after the actual interview. 

For this issue, we are open to publishing pieces not written in English. If you would like to write a piece partially or fully in an Indigenous language, we would welcome it. However, the pitches for all pieces must be in English, so that our editors have a clear understanding of what the story is about. We will also ask that you find two volunteer editors (could be a community member, elder, or fellow student) that are know or are willing to learn about the Martlet’s editing protocols, editing for legal purposes, and edit the piece with these parameters in mind. 

The issue will only feature stories authored by Indigenous students, the cover art will be a commissioned piece by an Indigenous artist, and the entire project is overseen and led by Boston Laferté, the communications coordinator at the Native Students Union. Where necessary, other Martlet staff may offer mentorship and editing assistance. All staff have undergone UVic’s Indigenous Cultural Acumen Training (ICAT) and UVic’s anti-racism training.  

In other local news publications in Victoria, there has not been a concerted effort to partner and mentor Indigenous journalists in this comprehensive and relationship-building way. Further, no other publication that distributes in Victoria, that we are aware of, has devoted an entire issue to Indigenous stories written by Indigenous journalists, with a cover designed by an Indigenous artist. This will be a historic project for the Martlet and represents our continued commitment to building relationships with Indigenous communities.

Article ideas

If you are new to writing, it might seem daunting to have to pitch your own story. Here are some ideas from Boston that you could write:

  • News reporting on local Indigenous language revitalization efforts
  • An opinion piece on the importance of language revitalization
  • Interview with an Elder whose life you want to highlight 
  • How you’ve been connecting to the land or traditions since COVID-19 started
  • Interview with a local Indigenous artist you like and want to highlight 
  • An opinion piece or news piece about museum collections and repatriation
  • Opinion piece talking about place names in so-called Victoria

How to pitch a story for the Indigenous-focussed issue

First of all, thank you for your interest in our Indigenous-focussed issue. This is an exciting opportunity, and we are looking forward to seeing the stories come together. If you get stuck at any step along the pitching process, please reach out and we can discuss your ideas with you. The NSU and the Martlet are able to offer eight Indigenous writers $150 for their stories, thanks to funding from the City of Victoria.

Before pitching, please ensure that you have done some research into your idea and how you might approach your story. Pitches should be about 150-300 words. Here are some elements a pitch should include: 

  • A proposed headline and proposed wordcount
  • Basic information about the story, such as where it takes place, who is involved, and what the main crux of the story is. Also specify which section you think the story is a good fit for (see The Martlet’s sections below)
  • The angle or perspective you plan to take when writing this story. 
  • Is there a local connection to the story? 
  • Why you feel this story is important 
  • How you will get more information to build your story, and whether that is through research or interviews. 

Again, if any of these questions become hurdles for your pitch, please reach out to us and we can help you hone your ideas. 

Stories should be approximately 1000 words. However, we recognize that there is strength in working together. If you would like to partner with another Indigenous writer or a photographer on a story, you can write a feature-length 2000+ word story. If accepted, you would both be paid $150 for your work. 

The Martlet’s sections are as follows: 

Please let us know if you have any questions about the Indigenous-focussed issue or the pitching process. 

About the Martlet and the NSU

The Native Students Union is a student-run collective dedicated to supporting the Indigenous student community at the University of Victoria.

The Martlet is an independent student newspaper based out of UVic.