About Broken Promises

Winter 2020 Research Team. Photo by Kaitlyn Schropp

Broken Promises

Charting new ways to do high-quality investigative journalism

Broken Promises was carried out by students at First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina, as part of a nationwide investigation coordinated by the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia. In Saskatchewan, students worked on the investigation for over a year in multiple classes at FNUniv and the U of R, including: 

  • Journalism 306 (Intermediate Broadcast Journalism)
  • JRN 307 (Investigative Journalism)
  • Indigenous Studies 390 (Collaborative Investigations I)
  • INDG 493 (Collaborative Investigations II)
  • INDG 390 (Collaborative Investigations I)
  • INDG 890 (Directed Studies)
  • JRN 303 (Research Techniques)

Nationally, the investigation involved students and faculty from 10 campuses, working with 26 journalists reporting for media outlets across Canada. The project represents a new frontier in conducting high-quality investigative journalism through the combined strength of large-scale collaborations.

Students Alicia Morrow and Paige Reimer at a water operators workshop at the Treaty 4 Centre in Fort Qu'Appelle.


Show Producers
Theresa Kliem
Kaitlyn Schropp
Dawson Thompson

Creative Producer
Adam Bent

Story Editor
Jasper Watrich

Field Producers
Dylan Earis
Libby Giesbrecht
Theresa Kliem
Kaitlyn Schropp
Dawson Thompson

Morgan Esperance
Mequonase (Mick) Favel
Libby Giesbrecht    Michelle Lerat
Julia Peterson
Paige Reimer

Camera and Editing
Adam Bent
Ethan Butterfield
Donovan Maess
Kaitlyn Schropp
Jasper Watrich

Additional Camera
Caitlin Taylor

Drone Operator
Barry Rudd

Online Articles, Research & Web Content
Taryn Acoose
Suliman Adam
Kerry Benjoe
Adam Bent
Jaida Beaudin-Herney
Brittany Boschman
Jacob Carr
Dylan Earis
Charmaine Ermine
Morgan Esperance
Mequonase (Mick) Favel
Libby Giesbrecht
Danna Henderson
Theresa Kleim
Michelle Lerat
Krystal Lewis
Alicia Morrow
Kaitlynn Nordal
Kehinde Olalafe
Heather O’Watch
Julia Peterson
Darla Ponace
Tuuli Rantasalo
Mercedes Redman
Shayla Sayer-Brabant
Paige Reimer
Kaitlyn Schropp
Dan Sherven
Penny Smoke
Dawson Thompson
Jasper Watrich
Doris Wesaquate

Faculty Advisors
Trevor Grant
Patricia Elliott
Layton Burton

Institute for Investigative Journalism
Patti Sonntag, IIJ director
Martha Troian, IIJ producer
Annie Burns-Pieper, IIJ managing editor
Hilary Beaumont, IIJ producer
Michael Wrobel, research coordinator
Colleen Kimmett, project coordinator
Declan Keogh, reporter
Lea Sabbah, editorial assistant
Emma Wilkie, editorial assistant

With the support of
Institute for Investigative Journalism, Concordia University
School of Journalism – University of Regina
Indigenous Communication Arts (INCA) – First Nations University of Canada 

Media Partners
Global News
Le Devoir
National Observer
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
The Tyee

Research Partners
Carleton University
Concordia University
First Nations University of Canada (INCA)
Humber College
MacEwan University
Mount Royal University
Ryerson University
University of British Columbia
University of King’s College
Université du Québec à Montréal
University of Regina


Winter 2020 Reporters

Journalism 307, JRN 306, Indigenous Studies 490 and INDG 890

Adam Bent has an avid interest in sports and hopes to pursue a career in sports journalism. He dreams of covering the NFL one day. Adam is currently studying journalism at the University of Regina where he has enjoyed the opportunity to interview players and the head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In his spare time, Adam enjoys watching football and playing video games. Follow him on Instagram @adambent or on Twitter @adam_bentt.

Brittany Boschman is a Cree/German woman from Brandon, Man. She is currently completing her BA (Hons.) in Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada. When Brittany isn’t studying, she enjoys all things sports. Follow her on Twitter @oohmybosch.
Photo by Terry Ritz

Ethan Butterfield was born in Regina, Sask. and raised in Vibank, Sask. Currently finishing degrees in both journalism and political science, Ethan looks to continue developing his skills as a camera operator and reporter. You can find him on Twitter @EthanCB2.

Dylan Earis is a third-year journalism student. His dream is to cover the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the Leader-Post. He loves the Philadelphia Eagles, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Heat and the University of Washington Huskies. Earis has filed stories for Canadian Press and the Regina Leader-Post, and in summer 2021 he will begin work as an interning sports writer for the Globe and Mail. @RidersRLife

Charmaine Ermine is an Indigenous woman, freelance  journalist, single mother and Indigenous Communication Arts student from Treaty 7 Territory. Follow her on twitter @charce

Morgan Esperance is from Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation. She is an alumna of First Nations University of Canada with a diploma in Indigenous Communication Arts, and currently pursuing a BA in journalism at the University of Regina. She enjoys her spare time reading and hanging out with her chihuahua/shi tzu, Tiny.

Mick Favel was born in Edmonton, Alta., and grew up in Regina. He is an alumnus of the First Nations University of Canada and is a journalism student at the University of Regina. He has written for Eagle Feather News and has co-hosted the podcast “Home on the Rez.” Currently, Mick is interested in all forms of journalism. Follow him on Twitter @mequonase.

Libby Giesbrecht was born and raised in Winnipeg, Man. where she worked as an on-air radio host for three years. Libby is currently studying journalism at the University of Regina. She holds a BA in criminal justice from the University of Winnipeg and is interested in covering crime and courts. Follow her on Instagram @libby.giesbrecht and Twitter @GiesbrechtLibby.

Danna Henderson is an Anishinaabe Kwe from Pasqua First Nation. She is a parent to three children. Danna also work full time as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Danna is completing her BA in Indigenous Studies.

Theresa Kliem is an immigrant from Germany where she graduated from the German Sport University and the University of Cologne. She moved to Saskatoon in 2015 and started helping other newcomers as an immigrant settlement advisor. Currently she is enrolled at the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. She loves animals, swimming and learning about her new home country, particularly the history and traditions of First Nations people.

Michelle Lerat is a journalism student at the University of Regina.

Krystal Lewis is an alumna of the University of Regina where she studied media production and international development, and also dabbled in German. She currently works at the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) on campus, supporting students who want to get involved in social and environmental justice work.

Donovan Maess is a journalism student at the University of Regina. Donovan has a passion for telling sports-related stories. His first love is hockey and his newest love is golf (but he isn’t that good at golf). Follow him on Instagram @donovanjmaess and Twitter @donovanjmaess.

Alicia Morrow is a 2020 spring graduate, she received her Bachelor of Arts Major Indigenous Studies and a certificate of Reconciliation from First Nations University of Canada. She is also the founder of a Non-Profit “The Comeback Society” and a co-host of The Comeback Podcast.

Julia Peterson (she/hers) is a Saskatoon-based journalist originally from Montreal. She has a passion for arts journalism, science reporting and social justice movements. Follow her on Twitter @hark_a_julia.

Mercedes Redman is a Dakota woman from Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation. She is currently completing her diploma in Indigenous Communications Arts at the First Nations University. She is currently interning at Electronic Health Information System doing marketing. When Mercedes isn’t working or studying, she enjoys spending time with her family and beading. Follow her on twitter @mercedes_redman  

Paige Reimer is from a ranch in southern Alberta. She attended Briercrest College in Caronport, Sask. for two years as a student in the English program. However, Paige decided to take her love of writing in a different direction. She hopes to work as a print journalist.

Shayla Sayer-Brabant is a proud Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) Two-Spirit and Indigenous Communication Arts student at the First Nations University of Canada. They are a member of Poundmaker Cree First Nation, but were born and raised in Oskana kâ-asastêki (Regina, Saskatchewan).By combining their passion for community-based research and story-telling through different forms of media, Shayla hopes to inspire others to be kind, heal, create, share, decolonize, and Indigenize.

Kaitlyn Schropp is a Saskatchewan small-town girl. She is passionate about telling people’s stories. Kaitlyn is a budding photojournalist with her own photography business, Wild Spirit Photography. Follow her on Instagram @wildspiritphotography.sk and Twitter @kaitlynschropp.

Dawson Thompson is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Regina. He interned at PaNOW in Prince Albert where he completed more than 100 stories in three months. He lives in Medicine Hat, Alta., and after graduating hopes to work in daily news in Alberta or British Columbia. In his spare time, Dawson enjoys golfing, hiking and playing video games with his friends online. Follow him on Twitter @dawsonthompson8.

Jasper Watrich has lived in Saskatchewan for more than 13 years and enjoys traveling to different areas of the province in the summers. He holds a Business Marketing Diploma from Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Jasper is an avid Vancouver Canucks fan. He hopes to produce documentaries after graduation. Follow him on Twitter @watrich.

Graduate students
Suliman Adam graduated with a Master’s of Journalism from the University of Regina and worked as a radio producer and presenter in Malaysia and Sudan. He has written stories for Eagle Feather News and worked on radio reports that were featured in CJTR 91.3 FM in Saskatchewan. His latest project is a podcast that explores social movements happening across the world. www.rebelium.org 

Kerry Benjoe recently graduated with a Master of Journalism degree from the University of Regina. Her final project was a multimedia website on the last generation of residential school survivors, www.minisa.ca 

Sayda Momtaha Habib is a Masters of Journalism student at the University of Regina. She is passionate about telling stories through documentaries, photography, and paintings. Her major interest lies in bringing light into social issues that are underreported.

Kehinde Olalafe is broadcast journalist and assistant producer of Sunrisedaily on Channels Television, and a graduate student at the University of Regina School of Journalism.

Penny Smoke is a Cree/Saulteaux journalist from Fishing Lake First Nation. The mother of three graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism in 2014. She has worked at several news outlets through Regina, including internships at CTV Regina, 980 CJME and CBC Saskatchewan, and is studying toward her Master’s degree in journalism at the U of R. Follow her on twitter @PennySmoke

Instructors: Patricia Elliott, Trevor Grant and Layton Burton

Fall 2019 Reporters

Indigenous Studies 393 -Investigative Research Collaborations I

Taryn Acoose is a proud member of Cowesses First Nation. She holds a a Certificate in Reconciliation, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Indigenous Studies, and a Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work degree from First Nations University of Canada. 

Jaida Beaudin-Herney is a Mi’kmaq and Cree woman from Membertou First Nations who grew up on the prairies. After finishing a degree in Political Science and a Diploma in Indigenous Communication of Arts at FNUniv. Jaida joined the investigation as an INCA intern and went on to work for the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University as a Research Fellow and the Saskatchewan reporter for Project Pandemic. She is currently an intern for the Tribal Chief’s office at File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council.

Darla Ponace is a Saulteaux woman from Zagime Anishinabek First Nation who is studying a minor in Saulteaux language and a diploma in Indigenous Communication Arts at First Nations University of Canada, with plans to enter the School of Journalism at the University of Regina.

Doris Wesaquate is a member of Piapot First Nation. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education and is now working toward a PhD with a focus on women’s health.

Two-term students (see bios in Winter 2020 team above)

Charmaine Ermine

Shayla Sayer-Brabant

Mercedes Redman

Instructor: Patricia Elliott

Winter 2019 reporters

Journalism 306 – Intermediate Broadcast Journalism
Jacob Carr, Kaitlyn Nordal, Heather O’Watch, Dan Sherven

Instructors: Trevor Grant and Layton Burton

Contributing artists

The following artists contributed use of their artwork for the student website and documentary.

Christi Belcourt

Leah Dorian

Shianne Gould

National Series

The IIJ-led investigation involved student researchers and journalists across Canada, reporting on stories in their own locations and nationally. It was the second set of stories in a two-year effort to investigate the safety of drinking water in Saskatchewan and in Canada. Stories published in 2019 focused on lead in urban tap water, while in 2020 the focus was water quality issues in First Nations. Students conducted preliminary research and received research credits for stories produced by journalists working for local and national media partners.

The participating colleges and universities, and media partners APTN News, Global News, The Tyee, Canada’s National Observer, Le Devoir and the StarPhoenix have thus far produced more than 30 stories. To see series credits, how we did it, and the full list of more than 30 stories produced by local and national media outlets, visit: Clean Water, Broken Promises 

Funding for educational activities was provided by The Rossy Foundation, which is the IIJ’s founding supporter. Additional funding was provided by McConnell Foundation and Inspirit Foundation.

University of Regina School of Journalism
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