A Passion for Radio and Culture Led to Jamie-Lee Finding the Right Media Opportunity in the Place She Loves Most

By Adriana Vicic

Jamie-Lee's hometown: Kebaowek First Nation, Quebec

Jamie-Lee McKenzie is breaking boundaries in Kebaowek.


Jamie-Lee McKenzie is a #MMJCTake2 graduate from the Kebaowek First Nations community in Quebec. She completed her undergraduate degree at Nipissing University, studying Political Science and Native Studies; however, she always had a love affair with writing.

Upon graduation, Jamie-Lee began freelancing for an online Indigenous newspaper, and her love for journalism flourished. Soon after, she moved to London, Ont. to complete her Master of Media in Journalism and Communication (MMJC) degree in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies (FIMS) at Western University.

“Looking back through my entire university career, my best memories are all from MMJC because we all had great times together. I’m still friends with a lot of people from the program, and we still talk quite often.”

Fun Fact

Jamie-Lee has watched every single episode of Law and Order SVU ever made. That's 469 episodes!

After graduating in 2017, Jamie-Lee ventured across Canada to pursue journalism. She began as an intern with Yukon News, eventually landing positions with CBC North, CBC Winnipeg and CBC Sudbury. She was responsible for associate producing, web-writing and reporting. She even did a stint for Unreserved, a nationally celebrated Indigenous radio show.

Despite her success, something was missing. After being away from her community for so long, Jamie-Lee felt disconnected from her culture and her people, and had an urge to move home.

“Any time you think of an idea, write it down. Even just the tiniest grain of an idea--write it down, think about it, flesh it out. It could become an awesome story one day.”

When approached by her Chief and Council to be station manager of Drumbeat Radio, Kebaowek’s first official radio station, Jamie-Lee jumped at the opportunity. “I never realized how much I would miss being on the radio [while at CBC], and I actually do really miss it. So, I was excited to get back out there,” she said.

Prior to her degree, Jamie-Lee thought she would pursue a career in print journalism. But after learning about the possibilities of audio through the MMJC program, her career trajectory shifted.

“I don’t know what I would be doing today if I didn’t go to Western to do MMJC because this is what I love to do every day,” she said. “I love being able to tell a story without having to focus on the pictures. You’re hearing something through someone’s own words, and I love it when you can hear the emotion in someone’s voice.”

Jamie-Lee’s time in the MMJC program taught her to believe in her ideas and to have confidence in her abilities. “Don’t ever worry that your idea isn’t good enough because all of your ideas are good enough,” she says. “Anything can be a story, especially if it’s something you believe in.”

The MMJC program has allowed many students to launch successful careers in journalism, communications, marketing and other media-focused industries. If you’re interested in starting your media career, apply to Western’s MMJC program to Start Your Story!

Profiles in the Start Your Story blog are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.