We are proud to announce that for the second year running, reporter Matteo Cimellaro has been nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalists award for best emerging Indigenous journalist.

Matteo is a Cree/settler reporter who joined Canada’s National Observer full-time in the summer of 2022.

For the past two years, his position has been funded by the federal Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) with a focus on climate, justice, politics and other issues that matter to the Indigenous community.

During this time, he has tackled a number of series, the most recent being coverage of the devastating 2023 fire season in Canada. Matteo set out to report on how wildfires, which are increasing in frequency and intensity as climate change worsens, disproportionately affect remote Indigenous communities.

Two of the signature pieces from that series — a story about the frantic escape from Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw First Nation near Kamloops, B.C., and a story about the health impacts of prolonged exposure to smoke — were part of his nomination submission. The other stemmed from a second series he completed on First Nations education and the challenges for families that must send their children away to finish high school.

As Matteo’s editor, I would say that this is a journalist with a huge heart and immense compassion. Those qualities go a long way to help him gain the trust of Indigenous people whose voices are not often reflected in mainstream media. The news features submitted for this nomination are beautifully written and well-researched and come alive with fine detail that stems from being able to travel and talk to people in their home communities.

About his nomination, Matteo says, “My work does not exist in a vacuum. It is only possible with the help of communities who allow me to steward their stories. A big thank you to both Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw and Cat Lake who spoke to me about what their communities are facing.

“It's an incredible honour to be recognized as an emerging Indigenous journalist alongside other incredible reporters. Thank you to CAJ and to my team at CNO who have mentored me to become the journalist I am today.”

The awards gala is scheduled for June 1 in Toronto.

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