Atlantic Canada's Indigenous news site celebrates 2 years online
'As long as I can pay the bills, I'm going to keep doing this,' says Kukukwes.com editor Maureen Googoo
Fresh out of high school 30 years ago, Maureen Googoo got a summer job at the Truro bureau of the Micmac News monthly.
In a matter of weeks, she had ambitions of a career covering Indigenous issues for an Indigenous audience.
"It was great. I loved it," she said. "I loved telling stories and I decided I wanted to be a journalist. My plan back then was to go to university, get a journalism degree, come back, work for the paper and hopefully become the editor."
That plan was derailed when the Micmac News folded while she was still in school in 1991.
'Trying to get those stories out'
Googoo elected to work in the mainstream media, "but I always had that desire to tell Indigenous stories. My career in the mainstream has always been me trying to get those stories out."
She came closest to that dream while working for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) for six and a half years.
That job, she said, became the foundation of Kukukwes.com, Googoo's website that is celebrating its second anniversary this month.
With the entire Atlantic region as her beat, Googoo said the stories she covers are necessarily varied.
"I try to pick stories that I feel that my readers — and I keep an Indigenous audience in mind — would find interesting," she said. "And sometimes I just go and cover stories because it's something that I don't know about and I want to learn more."
High traffic crashed website
Sometimes, too, Googoo is the only reporter covering a story, as in the four-week court case of a man accused of defrauding the Sipekne'katik band.
"And what I found was that people in various Indigenous communities were coming to my website, wanting to see the latest, and it got to a point where my website crashed on me on a daily basis," she recalled. "I had to upgrade my web posting service because of it."
Regular financial support helps
Googoo is not getting rich through Kukukwes.com, but then, her financial ambitions are fairly modest. She aims to raise about $1,500 US a month.
"Instead of subscribing to my website and keeping everything behind a paywall," she said, "I've asked readers, 'If you like my stories, consider supporting us on monthly basis.' You can sign up for anywhere between a dollar to about $20 or so a month."
About 71 people are supporting Googoo's work that way. She also sells a bit of advertising.
"Mind you, it isn't much, but I've always said as long as I can pay the bills, I'm going to keep doing this."
With files from Mainstreet Cape Breton