Photojournalism at Loyalist College
Provide a brief general introduction about yourself.
My name is Adrienne Fox. I am a storyteller. I use anything from the creative realm to tell stories such as writing, photography, and multimedia production. I am from Michikan Lake First Nation, which is a Nishnawbe Aski Nation community. Growing up, my family had to relocate to various places in Northern Ontario and Manitoba quite a bit for my father’s job with Northern Store. I lived in Wunnumin, Pikangikum, Marten Falls, Mishkeegogamang, Norway House, Poplar River, and Split Lake, and Thompson.
What does your daily job entail?
Right now, I am a gladue writer with Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services. My daily task is to create reports for indigenous offenders. I write their life stories to ensure the court sees and considers the bigger picture. Gladue is a sentencing principle which recognizes that Indigenous Peoples face racism and systemic discrimination in and out of the criminal law system. It attempts to deal with overrepresentation and inequities of Indigenous Peoples in custody by changing how judges sentence. I begin the process with a long interview, which may take two to five hours. In this interview, they are essentially telling me their life story. Based on what I learn, I research the situation further. For example, if I learn the offender has been through the child welfare system, I try to go through their child welfare records. I will talk to people they recommend I talk to, such as their spouse, parents, foster parent(s), children, and close friends. It helps to get a clear picture of their lives. The bulk of the people I write reports for go through extreme tragedies in their lives. A report takes me about four to six weeks and when completed it is about 15 to 30 pages.
How did you get to where you are today?
It has been kind of like a meandering path I am on. Every new endeavor I embark on, I want it to be challenging and teach me another aspect about being a storyteller. When I graduated from Photojournalism I worked for Wawatay News, which was a dream come true because that was my goal at the time. When I lived in Thompson, Man., I felt removed from my community and Wawatay helped me feel connected. Opening a Wawatay newspaper allowed me to see my grandmother and my uncle. So, when I worked at Wawatay, I worked really hard and spent a long time there. After that I worked for CBC because I wanted to try radio. I learned how to do stories for radio, which is different from what I did at Wawatay. It was an incredible experience. After that I took a communications job at Tikinagan Child and Family Services. It was a different aspect to storytelling. It was another challenge and I learned a lot about the child welfare system. After that, my biggest learning experience was establishing a business. Now, I am working for Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services.
What got you interested in your chosen career?
My interest in storytelling began with journalism. I took a Photojournalism at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ont., My career has been wherever opportunities present themselves. If I feel good about it, I will do it. I don’t have a set path for what I am going to be doing in the next couple of years, I am just focused on what I am doing right now. I just took something I loved doing as a child and haphazardly used it as a career.
What are some things you like about your career?
I love storytelling. I love the creativity of it all. I am drawn into the challenge of creating something that pleases the eye and encourages people to ask questions and talk. Ultimately, as a storyteller, your job is to present issues, people or things in a way that hasn't been seen before. You are helping teach by passing on somebody’s message, teaching, or wisdom. You are a conduit. That is what I love about it. I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. I just want to keep doing what I am doing. I do not see myself retiring from this. I will do this for as long as my body will allow me to.
What has motivated you?
A big motivating force in my life has always been my grandparents. My grandmother instilled in us the need to get an education and to go back and work for my people. That has always been the driving force for me. I want my kids to know they should pursue something that gives them purpose and something that gives back to the community. That is my mandate.
Outside of work, what kind of things do you do to take care of yourself?
For self care, I eat well for one thing. I try to get enough sleep. In addition to my gladue writing, I am still doing other things I enjoy outside of that. It is super important to me. The other thing I do is weight training. I like to spend time with my friends and my six-year-old. I am a big reader. On days I do not feel like doing anything I binge watch YouTube and Netflix. I wish I could go on more leisure trips.
What would you like to share with the youth reading this?
During my years in elementary and high school, I read a lot and had an early interest in photography. Those are the two things that blossomed into a career. If you are drawn to something, for example science, sports, anything in the creative field, or whatever you are interested in keep going with it. I believe it will take you where you want to be eventually. Some people take longer, but it will happen.