National Observer will now have a trio of finalists up for national journalism awards in May after Emilee Gilpin made the cut as a finalist for an award recognizing Canada's best emerging Indigenous journalist.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) announced on Monday that Gilpin was one of four finalists in the joint Journalists for Human Rights-CAJ Emerging Indigenous Journalist category of the awards to be announced next month in Toronto. She joins her colleagues, Carl Meyer and Mike De Souza, who were named finalists for awards in different categories by the CAJ last week.​

The emerging Indigenous journalism award was first announced in November 2017 and will be given for the first time in May during the CAJ Awards gala in Toronto.

Gilpin, who is of Saulteaux Cree and Métis descent, and a recognized member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, is National Observer's Indigenous Affairs reporter. She joined the Vancouver newsroom in 2017 and leads the ongoing special report, First Nations Forward, a project that was launched in collaboration with the Real Estate Foundation of BC and other partners.

The JHR-CAJ award recognizes a portfolio of Gilpin's work, including an in-depth multimedia feature about a First Nations occupation of a West Coast fish farm, stories about First Nations leadership in generating renewable power, intensely local efforts by one First Nation to build up its community, and the work of women leading the "tiny house movement" in the way of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Gilpin has also written passionately about what drew her into journalism and the need to investigate a "new narrative" of Indigenous economies and Indigenous solutions.

Chief George Quocksister Jr. and others occupy Marine Harvest Fish Farm, salmon
Chief George Quocksister Jr. and others occupy Marine Harvest Fish Farm on Aug. 25, 2017. File photo by Emilee Gilpin

"Since last year, Emilee has published a series of stunning multimedia stories that challenge the traditional narrative of Indigenous people in Canada," says National Observer managing editor Mike De Souza. "Her articles highlight the success, innovation and entrepreneurship of First Nations communities in British Columbia, in addition to the challenges they encounter along the way. She has strong writing skills and commits to building a trusting relationship with all of her sources. She has carried out her work with enormous sensitivity, and deliberately seeks sources whose voices have not often been included by media."

Gilpin, who completed a graduate diploma in journalism at Concordia University in Montreal in 2017, has been awarded the Susan Carson bursary in honour of a former Montreal Gazette reporter who championed the downtrodden. Before joining National Observer, she worked for The Tyee as part of the JHR’s Emerging Indigenous Intern program.

Other finalists in the Emerging Indigenous Journalist award category include Willow Fiddler from APTN National News, Kyle Muzyka from CBC News Edmonton and Creeden Martell from CBC News Saskatchewan.

Last week, the CAJ named De Souza as a finalist in the Online Media category for his investigative work on the National Energy Board. Ottawa reporter Carl Meyer was recognized in the Daily Excellence category for his nuanced reporting on the appointment of a new national chief science advisor.

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