Pushing Aboriginal issues into the mainstream media

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:23

The Treaties are supposed to be about sharing resources and building equal relationships, but the First Nations who signed them are benefiting the least.
Yet a great deal of media coverage concerning First Nations seems to ignore this. For the most part there’s no context about why there’s a housing crisis in some Northern communities, for example. About why there’s a suicide crisis, a prescription drug crisis. Instead, if you read any of the comments sections on most stories involving any First Nation issue, it is filled with stereotypes and misunderstandings.
There needs to be a change in the way Aboriginal peoples are seen in the media. There needs to be a shift in the way these stories are covered, by giving Aboriginal people a stronger voice in the media.
We need to change the common perception about the northern First Nation communities by putting things into context.
The Northern Media Development Initiative is about strengthening and growing these relationships between First Nations, the media, and the Canadian public at large.
This new partnership between Wawatay Native Communications Society and Journalists for Human Rights has set its sights on strengthening the voice of Aboriginal peoples in the mainstream media and also bridging the gap of disconnect between these groups.
The one-year pilot project will be sending two professional journalists to six communities in Nishnawbe Aski Nation to train community members to be grass-roots citizen journalists.
During the trainers’ three-month stay in each community, interested community members will be given the tools they need to voice their communities stories to mainstream media outlets throughout Canada.
This will hopefully give an Aboriginal perspective approach to story telling in order to give context to stories the country might not understand.
Whether it’s the lack of adequate housing or the unbalanced education system, the list goes on and it is unacceptable to treat any Treaty partner this way. The goal of training grass-roots journalists in their home communities is to have them submitting stories to mainstream media outlets that are not covering these issues. This will keep these stories in the mainstream media and hopefully put pressure on the responsible governments and ultimately hold them accountable.
Another aspect of the program will be a workshop series based out of Thunder Bay to do professional development with working journalists in the area. Topics for the workshop series will range from a crash course in Treaty rights, the impacts of residential schools, to how a First Nation’s finances are run. This is another approach to give context to stories involving northern First Nations in the media through journalists who are already working in the area.
We are all Treaty people. If you have a Canadian passport the Treaties involve you, not just the First Nations and the Federal government. By giving First Nations an equal playing field in the media the hopes are that in the long run the entire country’s perception will be changed. If more people are aware, and the media continues to cover these stories, then the government will hopefully work with these First Nations to overcome these difficulties together as equal partners.
Because the living conditions up North involve all of us; we are all Treaty people.
Trainer Danny Kresnyak will be in Attawapiskat July 8- Oct. 3. Moose Cree from Oct. 15- Jan. 25, and Constance Lake from Feb. 3- May 3.
Trainer Kim Stinson will be in Fort Severn July 8- Oct. 3. KI from Oct. 15- Jan. 25, and North Caribou Lake from Feb. 3- May 3.
For more information contact:
Chris Kornacki
Field Coordinator
Northern Media Development programchris@jhr.ca