Lloydminster Needs: Reconciliation in Media

Letter to the Editor of the Lloydminster Meridian Booster & the Lloydminster Source

The family of Jeanette Chief, a 48-year-old mother of seven, last seen leaving a Lloydminster hotel around midnight on June 2, 2007. Her body was found four days later in a slough in a rural area on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster. A 59-year-old man from Red Deer was charged with murdering Jeanette Chief and Violet Heathen, also from Onion Lake Cree Nation.

How Can the Media Do A Better Job of Representing Indigenous Voices In This Community?

Reconciliation is about learning the truth of Canada’s history with Indigenous peoples, examining the ongoing legacy of colonialism, and acknowledging that we can do better. First, I would like to share the history of this region and tell you why we need a reconciliation column in the newspaper to better represent the Indigenous voices in our community.

Lloydminster resides on Treaty 6 Territory composed of the area of Saskatoon, Prince Albert, North Battleford, and Meadow Lake. I acknowledge that the original inhabitants of Treaty 6 include Cree, Dene, Nakota, Saulteaux, Objibwe, and Metis Peoples. I acknowledge that we are all treaty people and we are all beneficiaries of this peace and friendship treaty.

Lloydminster has a population just over 31, 000 and according to the 2011 census data, Aboriginal peoples make up around 7 percent of the city’s population, with approximately 22 percent of Aboriginal respondents identifying as First Nations, and approximately 75 percent identifying as Metis. There are 14 First Nations reserves within a 150-kilometer driving radius from Lloydminster, as well as two Metis settlements, with the reserve in closest proximity being that of Onion Lake Cree Nation.

I am writing this letter as a Metis woman and leader of an Indigenous focused program that believes our community needs reconciliation in the media for the following reasons:

  1. To create a dialogue between non-Indigenous and Indigenous community members.
  2. To educate community members on the history of this area, and learn how the legacy of colonialism is still impacting Indigenous peoples education, language, culture, health, and economic opportunities and prosperity in this region.
  3. To increase the understanding that the prosperity of Lloydminster is linked to the First Nation reserves and Metis settlements surrounding us. The upcoming Indigenous business developments including a casino, which Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority states will provide 7 million dollars in wages, is an incentive for media to learn how to report on Indigenous issues. It’s in the media’s best interest to cater to Indigenous audiences and advertisers.

This past week the Lloydminster Meridian Booster published the article, Spreading awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women which should have contained the names of the murdered and missing Indigenous women from this area including Jarita NaistusJeanette ChiefViolet Heathen, and Daleen Bosse Muskego, instead focused on a non-indigenous outsiders perspective. I felt there was a misunderstanding of how to report on Indigenous events and I was upset for the Indigenous women that deserved to have their perspectives in this article. Also, the article should have acknowledged the grieving family members that were present at the event. Pauline Muskego, the mother of Daleen, presented with her granddaughter, a 16-year old that grew up without her mother from the age of 3. Also, the family of Jeanette Chief (pictured above) that were wearing shirts and holding signs honouring their loved one.

I suggest a good place for the media and community to start learning about reconciliation is at the Workshop: TRC Calls to Action: Our Personal and Collective Action, instructed by Annie Battiste at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre 4602-49th Ave on October 18th from 10:00 am – 11:30 am. In addition, please talk to the Lloydminster Reconciliation Group, composed of several local organizations about how you can work together to be more inclusive of Indigenous perspectives and how you can work together to create a reconciliation column.

Sincerely,

Shelley Wiart
Founder, Women Warriors

FYI: If you’re interested in supporting my reconciliation news column please email the editor of the Lloydminster Meridian Booster and Lloydminster Source, Taylor Weaver: taylor@meridianbooster.com
Please title your email: Lloyminster Needs Reconciliation in Media.


Resources for Implementing Reconciliation in Media

What doesn’t the media “get” about reporting on Indigenous women’s stories? What should they know about people like you, who provide interviews?

They label our Indigenous women and girls as sex workers, drug addicts, drunks. This puts it out there that our women aren’t valuable. It makes them less valued, and nobody will care about them.

The media actually makes a lot of mistakes — the ones who don’t care. You can tell who’s there for a story and who actually cares. And the media who don’t care, they’re the ones who are making the mistakes. They’re putting in the wrong names, or the wrong age or wrong something. Whereas, there’s a few that actually take the time to sit down with the family members and get it right.

An excerpt from the article, On Canadian Media Coverage of MMIWG – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.This is an interview with Stefana Fratila, a Master’s student that wrote a paper on #MMIWG and Canadian media.

“The one thing I would add is – and there’s academia on this and I’m sure it’s in your paper – but when you measure column inches, when you measure narrative frames, treatment, all that kind of stuff…there’s no question in my mind that mainstream media treats the disappearance of a white girl more –differently than they do the disappearance of a Native girl. There is no question in my mind and as far as I’m concerned there is also ample evidence that other academics have pulled together already: this is a race issue in the newsroom.”

Let’s imagine that one woman on the front of this magazine (a recently released Lloydminster publication) was murdered and dumped in a slough. Would we hold a walk to commemorate her memory and not state her name in the news story?

 


EP14 Chief Lady Bird on Art, Celebrating Our Bodies & Fighting Racism & Stereotypes in Tattoo Culture (iTunes, Google Play and Libsyn

Chief Lady Bird is an Anishinaabe (Potawatomi and Chippewa) artist from Rama First Nation with paternal ties to Moose Deer Point First Nation. She grew up on-reserve and is currently based in Toronto. Her work exists at the crux of her experience as an Indigenous womyn, wherein critiques of Nationalism and Indigenous identity reclamation meet, resulting in imagery that empowers Indigenous peoples and challenges the lens through which Indigenous people are often viewed.

On today’s episode Chief Lady Bird shares:

  • Why she prefers to be called Chief Lady Bird as opposed to her given name, Nancy.
  • Her journey to becoming an artist.
  • Her relationship with her spirit sister and main collaborator, Aura.
  • Reclaiming Indigenous presences in urban spaces through large-scale art projects.
  • Addressing racist and ignorant comments on her work.
  • Commentary on how her artwork – the assumption that it’s about murdered and missing Indigenous women.
  • Explanation of her beadwork glyphs art project.
  • Her thoughts on creating beautiful, sensual nude art pieces of Indigenous women’s bodies.
  • Tattoo culture and stereotypes/racism of Indigenous women.
  • Reclaiming our traditional tattoo culture.
  • How she stays centered as an artist.

Selected Links from this Episode

Connect with Chief Lady Bird 

Twitter
Website
Instagram

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