Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Inc. / APTN was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Manitoba's Top Employers (2018):
- APTN provides new mothers with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 93% of salary for 1 week followed by 80% of salary for 16 weeks) and extends parental leave payments to new fathers and adoptive parents (to 80% of salary for 16 weeks)
- In addition to 3.6 weeks of starting vacation allowance, APTN helps employees achieve better work-life balance through a variety of alternative working arrangements including flexible hours, a telecommuting option, and a 35-hour work week (with full pay)
- APTN incorporated employee feedback in its workplace design -- the interior walls are painted in an Aboriginal colour scheme, the boardroom table is designed to reflect the traditional medicine wheel and the studio space features vessel artifacts representing Indigenous cultures
At APTN, a chance to mix excellence and community
At Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), they like to talk about "incubating" talent. Francine Compton knows all about that. With the benefit of the extensive training and mentoring that the Winnipeg-based cable network prides itself on, she has been incubated all the way from an entry-level studio position to Executive Producer.
"I think mentorships are the best way for people to learn," says Compton. "I gained all my skills and experience on the job because of my mentorships. I knew I was learning from very skilled professionals, from people who do the job every day. They're not teachers who did the job 10 or 20 years ago."
Compton, part of the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba, joined the network in 2000, less than a year after it was founded. She had grown up in a core neighbourhood in Winnipeg before moving to the suburbs in her teens. She remembers her father, who was in the television industry himself, talking about the prospect of APTN. "My dad told me we would have our own network. I didn't believe him," she laughs.
But she was interested in the business. She started working for an independent producer straight out of high school, then soon moved over to APTN, where she worked as a youth reporter and a television director. Things were more informal then, but she got a lot of mentoring from the CBC directors that APTN brought in to help the new network.
In 2008, after some time out in New York City, she decided to come back and take on a formal mentorship for a producer position in the news department. "It was a really good experience," she says. "Every day there were learning opportunities."
So it seemed natural for Compton to apply for another mentorship three years later, aimed at becoming an executive producer. That eventually led to a move to Ottawa for her current role in charge of the entire television and online news operation in eastern Canada, from Ontario to Newfoundland.
That kind of intensive professional development is a way of life at APTN, says Monika Ille, Montreal-based Executive Director of Programming and Scheduling, who herself enjoyed mentorship opportunities. The network employs a wide range of corporate personnel, from finance and marketing specialists to programming coordinators. The on-camera and in-studio group, however, is mainly the news and special events staff, since by its mandate, APTN gets most of its entertainment and documentary programming from independent producers.
Ille stresses that you don't have to be of Indigenous heritage to work at APTN, although given equal qualifications, the preference does go to such applicants. Currently, 65 per cent of employees are of Aboriginal ancestry, including 100 per cent of directors and 62 per cent of managers.
She notes that the network also offers competitive benefits, including tuition support, three weeks of vacation to start and a generous maternity and parental leave top-up. The family assistance program, which in most organizations offers counselling and other services, includes access to a traditional elder healing service if desired.
In fact, most employees seem to feel that the biggest satisfaction in working at APTN is how they are supporting the First Nations community. "People like to see themselves on TV and hear their own language," Ille says.
Compton strongly agrees. "APTN means a lot to the people who work there. To me, APTN is like my family. It's my heart."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Inc. / APTN was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- APTN recently partnered with the Canadian Association of Journalists to provide a paid 12-week placement with APTN Investigates -- the selected journalist had the opportunity to produce a full-length piece of original investigative journalism that aired on the program and was also screened at the Canadian Association of Journalists awards
- APTN manages an unpaid apprenticeship / work experience program for high school and post-secondary students of Aboriginal descent -- upon program completion, participants may also apply for paid internship opportunities
- As part of the broadcaster's relationship with the Journalists for Human Rights organization, APTN accepts up to 4 interns per year who are dedicated to reporting indigenous content
A strong internship program reaps talent for APTN
If you want to hear about the benefits of an internship, talk to Kimberly Cleave and Ranee Dong. Both took advantage of such placements at Winnipeg-based Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), and both say they're now doing really fun and rewarding full-time work as a result.
"I've done a lot of learning along the way, and had a lot of employment growth, which is fantastic," says Cleave, who is Online Producer for the APTN music website, Digital Drum. "They put a lot of faith in the people coming in and let them be creative," adds Dong, a Graphic Artist for APTN National News.
Cleave, of Manitoba Métis descent, holds a film degree from the University of Winnipeg and a diploma in Digital Media Design from Red River College. She began her journey with APTN on a two-week practicum while at the college, leading to a paid summer internship in 2011 at Digital Drum, which showcases Indigenous music and its artists. When an online producer position came up, Cleave applied. Given her recent experience with the network, she was deemed an ideal candidate to transition into the job.
Now she oversees Digital Drum's content and video production, and travels widely, from Haida Gwaii to Yellowknife and internationally. "I have a pretty amazing job, to work in the music scene and go to festivals and travel," she says. "And it's really empowering to know that I have the management's support. They are very accepting of young people's ideas and innovations. They have a lot of patience and take a lot of time to train you."
Dong also went through Red River College's Digital Media Design program after getting her BA from the University of Manitoba, and also started at Digital Drum on a summer internship, making videos. Later the young Métis woman began filling in as an entry-level TV tech in the newsroom. Though she still had to attend courses in her college program, APTN accommodated her hours. "I would rush over at 4 p.m. to work on the news, going live at 5," she recalls.
Dong started working full-time in the newsroom in 2013 and was promoted to her current position a year later. She now handles the on-screen graphics for the national news and for such major events as APTN's 2015 federal election coverage. She has picked up a lot of skills on the job, and she has also received specialized training, including a stint in Los Angeles.
Debbie Isaak, Director of Human Resources, says APTN puts a lot of emphasis on internships and other vehicles to involve young people. These start as early as high school, with "work experiences" offered to 12 students last year. "These are young people who really want to get the behind-the-scenes flavour of broadcasting," says Isaak.
There are also the formal paid internships open to First Nations, Inuit and Métis post-secondary students in journalism or broadcasting programs. APTN has an additional intern partnership with Journalists for Human Rights, and offers two $2,000 scholarships to help support Indigenous journalism students in their final year. "We hope this will pique their interest in APTN," says Isaak.
Once young people are in the door, she says, "we give strong support to our people through mentorships, work experiences and a lot of training and development."
While internships and scholarships are limited to Indigenous candidates, Isaak notes that anyone can apply for a job at APTN. The news and programming departments are the biggest employers -- most shows are produced externally by independent producers or independent production houses -- and there are also regular organizational support roles from finance to marketing.
Above all, APTN offers "a sense of family," says Isaak, of Métis descent. "The sense of pride is No. 1."