Media and Reconciliation (84-86): Current Problems


September 10, 2020

Media Protests and RCMP

Arrest of Indigenous journalists at protests

Toronto Star – Increasing arrests of Indigenous journalists including:

  • Karl Dockstader at Land Back Lane Haudenosaunee occupation regarding a housing development near Caledonia
  • Courtney Skye, Yellowhead Institute researcher and Ryerson Fellow
  • award-winning journalist Justin Brake was arrested and charged with criminal and civil contempt and criminal mischief while covering a protest at Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland, Four years later all charges were dismissed
  • At the Wet’suwet’en protests in BC
    • Jerome Turner, an award winning Gixstan journalist had shotguns and sniper guns aimed at him
    • Amber Bracken, an award-winning photo-journalist was pushed back and warned to stay away
    • Jesse Winter, an award-winning photojournalist was detained by police
    • Melissa Cox, American documentary filmmaker, was arrested documenting the conflict nearby on un-ceded Gitxsan territory

Sept. 4th marked the 25th anniversary of the Ipperwash tragedy where Dudley George, an unarmed Indigenous man was killed by an OPP sniper while occupying land promised by the federal government to the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.

There were no journalists present when George was killed.

Brent Jolly, the President of the Canadian Association of Journalists, condemned the arrest of Karl Dockstader stating: “The OPP are well aware that journalists have an established constitutional right to be present and cover matters of public interest.,” he said, “Attempting to prevent a properly credentialed journalist from documenting a moment of contentious action is impermissible in a country like Canada. Journalism should never be silenced.”

November 18, 2021

Media Protests and RCMP

Arrest of Indigenous journalists at Wet’suwet’en protests

Toronto Star – Two journalists reporting from the Wet’suwet’en territory were among 15 people arrested and detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia Friday night. Both remain in custody.
Since last year, media has covered RCMP raids in the territory, Indigenous rights and police removal of defenders of the land who are blocking the logging of old-growth forests in the area. Photographer Amber Bracken was on assignment for The Narwhal when she was arrested. Filmmaker and photographer Michael Toledano, a freelance reporter who has been living in Wet’suwet’en territory in order to create a documentary about what Indigenous people face in the region, was also arrested.

Brent Jolly, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), says that the two arrests are unjustified. “It’s completely and utterly shocking the extent to which the RCMP are going to prevent journalists from covering events that are happening in the public interest,” he said. Bracken and Toledano are currently being detained in Smithers, B.C., and are scheduled to be transported to Prince George for a bail hearing on Monday, according to Jolly.

In July, the Canadian Association of Journalists, a non-profit that works to defend press freedom and connect reporters across the country, along with multiple other journalism organizations won a court challenge at the Supreme Court in B.C. on press freedom in the Fairy Creek area.

April 23, 2021

Media Transgressions

La Presse violates Inuit children and youth privacy

Makivik Corporation – In 2015, a La Presse newspaper publication published “senselessly documented details surrounding the deaths of Indigenous children and youth from across Quebec, going as far as to publish the portraits of the deceased as well as the circumstances of their death. 144 Inuit are included in the database, titled «LE DRAME IGNORÉ DES ENFANTS AUTOCHTONES », which translates to “THE IGNORED DRAMA OF ABORIGINAL CHILDREN”. Makivik leadership find this kind of exploitation shocking and concerning. Though the database has since been removed, the damage has already been done. Further actions need to be taken to ensure this type of reporting doesn’t continue as it does nothing more than bring pain to the families.

This highlights the discriminatory approach and lens that southern media has when it looks at Nunavik and other Indigenous communities,” said Makivik President Pita Aatami. The sudden resurfacing of the database sharing sensitive and questionable content raises some serious privacy and consent issues. The publication of this information without the families’ knowledge also means that they are being forced to re-live past traumas.

Among the actions Makivik will take in the coming days are filing of complaints to La Presse, le Conseil de presse and the Coroner in Chief. We will also examine a possible class-action for the parents.

September 3, 2020

Media Transgressions

Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers

TVO – An updated edition of “Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers” by Carmen Robertson, a Scots-Lakota professor who currently holds a Canada Research Chair in North American Indigenous Visual and Material Culture at Carleton University. Her research centres on contemporary Indigenous arts and on constructions of Indigeneity in popular culture. The new edition will be published by University of Manitoba Press.

Robertson sees positive developments in how mainstream media portrays Indigenous issues and people although she believes the Indigenous lens is still clouded by a failure to understand the Indigenous world view – especially the Indigenous relationship to the land that does not recognize the concept of individual property. The new edition will be updated and include new material on Idle No More and well as a discussion on genocide the not so startling conclusion of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.