Meet CBC Indigenous journalist Connie Walker

Supplied photo
CBC Indigenous reporter and journalist Connie Walker Supplied photo

It's been a great few weeks for CBC journalist Connie Walker. She's been winning awards for her work alongside the public broadcaster's news team for reporting on the unsolved cases of Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women.

In recent years, Walker has reported extensively on Indigenous issues, founding CBC.ca's popular Aboriginal portal and often leading CBC TV's The National with her heartbreaking reports on missing and murdered women. As a Cree from Saskatchewan's Okanese First Nation, Walker not only has a personal motivation to tell the stories of these women, but has long-advocated behind the scenes for these stories to be told during her more than 15-year career at the CBC.

So now, with multiple awards in hand, and the second phase of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls soon to be announced, we thought it was good timing to check in with Walker. We caught up with her near the end of a work day at the CBC Toronto headquarters.

A photo wall of missing or murdered Indigenous women, whose tragic stories were collected by the CBC Indigenous team
A tragic wall of missing or murdered Indigenous women, whose stories were collected by the CBC Indigenous team Screen capture
Tell us about some of your latest projects at the investigative unit.

Connie Walker For the last year, we've been looking into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. It was almost a year ago now that we launched a database featuring unsolved cases that we compiled from across the country &mdash over 230 women's names whose cases are still unsolved. Last year, we told a number of the women's stories on a bigger level. I traveled to northern Manitoba and I did a story about Leah Anderson and I spoke with her family and talked to people in her community. We're continuing those investigations now. The project has recently won a couple of awards, which is really exciting, especially because I think it's really renewed [CBC's] commitment to help us tell these stories -- and it's an issue that's really important to me.

And how many of these cases have you profiled on TV?

So we did Leah's story last year and then we did another story about Amber Tuccaro shortly after that. Then, there were a number of shorter news stories throughout the year where we talked to other family members. So quite a bit. The amount of attention this issue has gotten has changed dramatically in the last year.

CBC journalist Connie Walker had a personal connection to Amber Tuccaro, one of Canada's many missing and murdered Indigenous women.
CBC journalist Connie Walker had a personal connection to Amber Tuccaro, one of Canada's many missing and murdered Indigenous women. Screen capture

I remember that I pitched my first missing and murdered Indigenous women story in 2005, when a girl that I knew from back home had gone missing and it was the same summer that Alicia Ross went missing in Toronto. I'm not sure if you remember, but Alicia Ross was a young woman from [Markham, Ontario] and she was this beautiful, blonde-haired woman who was on the front page of all of the newspapers for days and led the national newscasts. Her body was found and eventually someone was charged in her murder. I remember thinking, at the time, that I didn't understand why Amber's story wasn't being told... there were so many similarities in their cases.

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Robert J. Ballantyne is Artsculture‘s Creative Director. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star and other media outlets. In addition to leading the Artsculture Collective, he built and designed Artsculture‘s website. He is available for freelance web development and graphic design at Artsculture Creative.

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