As stories about Indigenous people are rarely covered in mainstream medias, same images about them come back again and again. According to Steve Bonspiel, people tend to be dissociated from their lands and ressources they use. That is why, find a new way to reconcile those two things was the purpose of the Panel about Indigenous People in Mainstream Medias organized at Mc Gill University on March, 21st. Indeed, issues about Indigenous People are often marginalized in mainstream medias where they are portrayed as being primitive, violent and devious, or passive and submissive. Such depictions have become a comfortable frame of reference each time there is a question about Indigenous people, even though very few non-Natives have had the opportunity to meet a Native person in real life.
According to the panelists Steve Bonspiel – Editor at The Eastern Door – , Jessica Deer – Staff Reporter at The Eastern Door-, and Nakha Bertrand – Editor at Ricochet – Français– who attended the Conference, mainstream medias should share stories about Indigenous lives and stories about the community for people to know and understand better communities without judging or producing new stereotypes about the ”un-known”.
On the subject, the final report made by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 2015 admitted the lack of knowledges journalists had about Indigenous people implying a bad coverage of their real life. It stated:
The country’s large newspapers, TV and radio news shows often contain misinformation, sweeping generalizations and galling stereotypes about Natives and Native affairs. The result is that most Canadians have little real knowledge of the country’s Native peoples or the issues that affect them.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found little change in Canadian media coverage in the two decades since, concluding that ” this historical pattern persists “.
As long as journalists won’t ask real questions to Indigenous people as well as give a real critical viewpoint about issues which Indigenous people face in their everyday life, we won’t be able to understand each other and move on. We need to give a voice to the voiceless !