By Christopher Yip
Journalist and First Nations spokesperson Wab Kinew encouraged the media and Aboriginal people to work together in the annual Minifie Lecture at the University of Regina last Tuesday. Kinew touched on the state of journalism today by looking at the relationship between Canadian journalism and the Idle No More movement.
“I have waited for my people to stand up for themselves, to show that we care about our futures and re-establish ourselves in the fabric of North American society,” Kinew said. “For a brief time, everyone in this country was paying attention to our reality.”
However, Kinew criticized the press for its lack of initiative in reaching out to protesters beyond big-name representatives like Chief Theresa Spence.
“Much of the attention was focused on the chiefs and the Prime Minister. Yet who really had the power on January 11?” Kinew asked. “The answer is grassroots Indigenous people.”
Kinew admitted he had a clear bias in his own reportage of the Idle No More movement, but justified it by pointing out the lack of balanced representation of First Nations people in Canadian news. He shared his struggle as a minority journalist at the CBC, saying he had to fight for fair representation in the newsroom. A reporter at CBC Winnipeg from 2006 to 2012, he is currently director of Indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.
Kinew advised news media to be more open to covering stories on First Nations issues. But he also said building a healthy relationship between First Nations and the media is a “two-way street,” and asked Aboriginal people to join in the conversation.
“Part of fixing that problem definitely lies with Indigenous people. We must engage better with mainstream politics,” said Kinew.
He ended by predicting a potentially brighter future between Canadian journalism and fair representation for Indigenous people.
“We can come closer to reaching the lofty ambitions of serving the public good to which we aspire,” Kinew said. “And it begins with embracing our ideals once more.”
The annual Minifie Lecture is hosted by the University of Regina School of Journalism. This year, about 400 students and members of the Regina community attended.