National Aboriginal Day: Free Expression in the Media

Friday, June 21, 2013

By: Nouran Sedaghat

In light of National Aboriginal Day (June 21), CJFE is drawing attention to three organizations that are helping to explore and expand free expression in the media for Canada’s Aboriginal communities.

Strategic Alliance of Broadcasters for Aboriginal Reflection (SABAR)
SABAR was initiated in 2003 by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) (formerly Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) in conjunction with broadcasters and industry-related organizations. SABAR seeks to increase Aboriginal participation in the Canadian broadcasting industry by examining opportunities in targeted areas, including internships, scholarships and partnerships. SABAR’s work is also focused on examining and increasing the representation of Aboriginal Peoples in the media. More details can be found on the official website here.

Wawatay Native Communications Society
Wawatay Native Communications Society serves the communication needs of First Nations people and communities of Nishnawbe Aski Nation through the provision of various media throughout northern Ontario. These include a bi-weekly newspaper, Wawatay News, Wawatay Radio Network and Wawatay Television, which produces two television shows that are regularly broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). Wawatay Native Communications Society is currently working with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) to improve the quality of journalism education for members of the Aboriginal community via the Northern Ontario Initiative. Launched in May, the program aims to increase Aboriginal Canadians' participation in national media by making professional training and mentorship accessible to thirty aspiring journalists.

Idle No More
The Idle No More protest movement began in December 2012 in response to the federal government’s alleged legislative abuses of Aboriginal treaty rights. Although not expressly concerned with the issues of free expression, social media has played an important role in propelling the Idle No More movement forward, demonstrating the power of the right to speak. As reported by the Toronto Star, social media has allowed protestors to have their voices heard, and helps them share coverage of events that might otherwise be overlooked with isolated northern communities. It has also helped delocalize the movement, making it a national, and to some degree international, phenomenon.